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Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Dangers, and Treatment

Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Dangers, and Treatment

Mar 01, 2023

If your sleep partner has mentioned that you snore loudly or choke during sleep, you might have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common but potentially dangerous sleep disorder in which breathing stops and repeatedly begins during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common, which happens when the muscles at the back of your throat relax too much when sleeping, partially or completely closing the airway and stopping breathing. You’ll wake briefly to correct your breathing. It can happen several times an hour throughout the night. OSA is often associated with obesity.

Central sleep apnea is another type of sleep disorder associated with several factors like high altitude and chronic health problems such as heart failure. It happens when your brain fails to send correct signals to the muscles that control breathing.

Common symptoms of sleep apnea

The signs of obstructive and central sleep apnea often overlap. Below are some of the common symptoms:

  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth
  • Choking or gasping for air during sleep
  • Morning headaches
  • Excess daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Irritability
  • Episodes of breathing stops during sleep (often reported by another person)
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
  • Unexplained fatigue and mood swings

These signs don’t always mean you have sleep apnea. However, visiting a dentist or doctor to diagnose your problem and get the necessary treatment is essential. Visit our office for sleep apnea treatments in Glastonbury, CT.

Dangers of Uncontrolled Sleep Apnea

While mild sleep apnea may not cause significant problems, regular and severe sleep apnea can cause life-threatening complications, including:

  • Cardiovascular problems and death

    Recent studies have shown a link between untreated sleep apnea and cardiovascular problems like strokes, heart attacks, and failure. Sleep apnea reduces oxygen flow in the blood and causes increased pressure in the blood vessels around the heart. This pressure can cause too much strain on the heart, ultimately damaging heart muscles and causing other complications like arrhythmia.

    Arrhythmias (atrial fibrillation) is a dangerous disorder that disrupts blood flow through the heart’s upper left chamber, causing blood to linger for too long and clot. These clots can travel to the brain, causing a stroke. Severe arrhythmia can stop your heart, causing sudden cardiac death.

  • Diabetes

    Sleep apnea results in oxygen deprivation, which affects your body’s ability to utilize insulin and regular blood glucose. It can contribute to insulin resistance and glucose metabolism changes, increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes.

  • Daytime drowsiness

    Sleep apnea can prevent quality and restful sleep, causing you to feel tired and drowsy throughout the day. While it might not seem dangerous, daytime drowsiness can result in work-related accidents, especially for people operating dangerous machinery. People with sleep apnea have a higher risk of falling asleep while driving, causing accidents.

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

While sleep apnea can affect anyone, certain factors can increase your risk. These include:

  • Excess weight
  • Thicker neck or narrowed airway
  • Men are two to three times more likely to develop sleep apnea than women.
  • Being older
  • Family history
  • Use of tobacco and alcohol
  • Use of certain drugs like sedatives and tranquilizers
  • Nasal congestion
  • Existing medical conditions like heart failure, high blood pressure, asthma, type 2 diabetes, and stroke

Effective Treatments for Sleep Apnea

It’s essential to seek sleep apnea treatment to prevent serious and life-threatening complications. Your dentist will examine and diagnose your conditions and create a personalized treatment plan.

The type of treatment you get will depend on your symptoms and cause. You can treat mild obstructive sleep apnea with lifestyle and home remedies like:

  • Exercising and losing weight
  • Avoiding certain drugs like tranquilizers and sleeping pills
  • Sleeping on the side
  • Medicine changes
  • Avoiding tobacco and alcohol

For mild to moderate to severe sleep apnea, your dentist or doctor can recommend therapies like:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine
  • Bi-level BPAP
  • Oral appliances like snore guards and tongue-retaining devices

If these treatments aren’t effective, surgery can be an option. Common surgeries for sleep apnea include:

  • Tissue removal and shrinkage
  • Jaw repositioning
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Tracheostomy
  • Weight loss surgery

Are you looking for Sleep Apnea Treatments near You?

Contact Steven F Hinchey, DMD, for more information about sleep apnea and treatments.

860-633-6518 Book Appointment
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