Do you find yourself feeling tired during the day? Do you wake up feeling unrested? Do you have headaches in the morning, but you’re not sure why? If you have these symptoms, chances are you are suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that is associated with premature death from many causes, from car accidents to heart disease to suicide. Although sleep apnea is serious, with treatment its many effects can be reversed. And, best of all, there is an easy, comfortable, convenient, and nonsurgical treatment available.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea in the Centennial area and are looking for an effective alternative to CPAP, or if you’re not sure you have sleep apnea, we can help. Please call 303-759-5652 or email us today for an appointment at Park Meadows Dental Care in Centennial today.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
One of the big problems with sleep apnea is that it occurs during the night while you’re sleeping. This means that it can be hard to realize that you are suffering from the condition. That’s why 80% or more of sleep apnea sufferers are undiagnosed. Watch for the following signs or symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Elevated blood pressure
- Snoring, especially snoring that ends in a choking sound
- Loss of motivation
- Memory problems
- Falling asleep during daily tasks
- Inability to concentrate
- Depression, irritability, or other mood problems or mood swings
If you suffer from several these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about sleep apnea.
What Causes Sleep Apnea
Snoring is caused by a narrowed airway, but in sleep apnea your airway closes completely, cutting off your air supply. You are literally being choked by your own tissue. Unlike snoring, this is rarely caused by the nose, but normally occurs at the back of the mouth or the upper airway. It’s typically caused by the upper palate, the uvula and/or tonsils, the tongue, or the throat.
Snoring is commonly associated with obesity, but it can also occur in people with normal weight, often because of anatomical restrictions of the airway.
What Sleep Apnea Does to Your Body
When your airway closes, it cuts off your body’s access to oxygen. As your body’s main consumer of oxygen, your brain senses this lack first, and it immediately wakes up slightly to restore breathing by stimulating the muscles that hold your airway open. Even immediate waking is not fast enough, though, because your brain suffers damage due to the short-term oxygen deprivation. Sleep apnea sufferers show brain damage across many parts of their brain.
When your brain senses the lack of oxygen, it also stimulates your heart to beat faster and harder. These nocturnal stimulations of your heart result in heart damage and elevated blood pressure, which can increase your risk of stroke, kidney damage, and other serious consequences.
When your body awakes slightly, it prevents your brain from reaching the deeper areas of sleep where mental rest is achieved. People who do not achieve or maintain REM sleep can be prone to memory loss, may fall asleep during the day, and may suffer depression, lack of motivation, and other psychological effects.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Although CPAP is the most commonly-prescribed sleep apnea treatment, there are many CPAP alternatives that are worth exploring.
Simple lifestyle differences can make a significant difference, especially for mild sleep apnea. Lose some weight to reduce sleep apnea. Change to sleeping on your side rather than your back to reduce your snoring and sleep apnea. Stop drinking alcohol in the evening.
You can also get a small, convenient oral appliance to help hold your airway open at night by repositioning your jaw, changing the position of your tongue, or other methods.
For some cases of sleep apnea, surgery may be recommended. Surgery poses additional risks for sleep apnea sufferers and surgery has a mixed record for effectiveness, so it typically is used as a last treatment option or to aid the effectiveness of other sleep apnea treatments.
If you want to learn more about Centennial sleep apnea treatment options, please contact Park Meadows Dental Care in Centennial today for an appointment.