Do you feel like you’ve lost your ability to sleep soundly through the night? Poor sleep isn’t just a consequence of getting older. You could be one of the millions of Americans unknowingly suffering from a serious condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. Keep reading to learn the top 4 things you need to know about this sleep breathing disorder, and how you can find relief in a full night’s sleep once again with treatment for sleep apnea in Skokie.
1. What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea, which we will refer to as OSA from here on out, occurs when the throat becomes partially or completely blocked during sleep. This obstruction is the result of the tongue and throat muscles blocking the windpipe, cutting off oxygen to the brain and causing the sufferer to wake repeatedly through the night.
OSA can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Being overweight or obese (the #1 risk factor of OSA)
- Heavy alcohol consumption, especially before bed
- Having large tonsils or tongue
- Taking certain medications that affect sleep
- Having a deviated septum
2. What Are the Warning Signs?
Even though the warning signs of OSA are difficult to miss, they may still remain ignored for years. OSA symptoms may be also confused with those of anxiety or depression, leading to misdiagnosis.
The most important thing to watch out for is loud, chronic snoring. People who have OSA will snore loudly enough to wake a sleeping partner. In fact, it is usually a partner who recognizes that there is an issue that needs to be treated.
In addition to snoring, the sufferer may wake with a dry mouth or sore throat after a night of gasping for air. Typical side effects of poor sleep may occur as well, including confusion, fatigue, difficulty completing daytime tasks, and others.
3. Are There Complications of OSA?
If you suspect you or a loved one are dealing with the exhausting condition known as OSA, don’t delay in getting treatment. This disorder can take a real toll on overall health, as oxygen levels drop in the blood when breathing stops. Over time, the cumulative effect of oxygen deprivation can be significant.
Some of the most considerable effects of OSA include:
- Heart problems: High blood pressure, stroke, heart attack
- Memory problems
- An increased risk of having an accident while driving
- In worst cases, premature death
4. How Is OSA Treated?
You may be surprised to learn your dentist is the person to turn to for OSA treatment. They can provide a custom oral appliance to keeps the lower jaw in place, preventing its collapse and allowing for the smooth flow of air through the windpipe at night. More severe cases of OSA may require combined therapy with a CPAP, or a continuous positive airway pressure machine.
Whichever treatment is right for you, don’t delay in seeking the solution you need! Your happy, healthy life depends on it.
About the Author
Dr. Fred Dreher is a general dentist, sleep apnea expert, and proud member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. He has been providing sleep apnea solutions for two years and counting. To learn more about his services or how you can find relief from OSA, you are invited to contact your sleep doctor in Skokie at 518-885-6185.