Sleep Apnea Odyssey: Understanding The Condition

Are you suffering from poor quality of sleep? Do you feel tired and lethargic the next day you wake up? Do not ignore this, since it may have an underlying cause to it. What you notice or experience may be due to sleep apnea! 

The highly skilled and experienced dental professionals offering dental practice in Fresno, CA can guide you through sleep apnea. Read on to know the types, causes, symptoms, and treatment of this medical condition.

A comprehensive guide to sleep apnea

The word “apnea” means breathless, and sleep apnea is a clinical condition characterized by disturbed sleep during the night due to cessation of normal breathing. Sleep apnea is a chronic (long-lasting) medical condition that results in the lack of oxygen which in turn activates a survival reflex in your body that wakes you up from sleep. This can resume your normal breathing again, but can greatly interrupt your sleep cycle. If sleep apnea is ignored and goes untreated then it can have debilitating consequences on your general health like increased stress on your heart. 

What causes sleep apnea?

Depending on the type, the following factors can lead to sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: Airway obstruction due to relaxation of the muscles of the head and neck while you are asleep. 
  • Central sleep apnea: Heart failure, hypoxia (low blood oxygen levels), and nervous system damage can be a cause of central sleep apnea
  • Complex sleep apnea: Sleep apnea caused due to a combination of any of the causes of obstructive and central sleep apnea.

What are the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea can be characterized by any of the following signs and symptoms: 

  • Snoring while sleeping 
  • Waking up frequently at night due to breathing problems
  • Tiredness on waking up
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Headaches, especially when waking up
  • Irritability 
  • Poor concentration 
  • Memory loss
  • Unusual breathing pattern
  • Insomnia
  • Night sweats and heartburn
  • Sexual dysfunction 
  • Poor sex drive 
  • Anxiety or depression 

How do dentists treat sleep apnea?

Based on the type, and severity of the symptoms, dentists may treat sleep apnea with any of the following treatment options:

Non-surgical approach: For mild cases 

  • Conservative treatment 
  • Weight loss
  • Changing sleep positions
  • Nasal sprays
  • Medications 
  • Positive airway pressure (PAP) and adaptive ventilation
  • Oral appliances
  • Nerve stimulators 

Surgical approach: For severe cases

  • Somnoplasty
  • Nasal surgery
  • tonsillectomy/ adenoidectomy
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)
  • Jaw surgery 

Final thought  

Sleep apnea is a widespread clinical problem affecting millions globally due to a variety of reasons. This can disrupt your normal breathing while asleep. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious complications like high blood pressure (hypertension), heart failure, stroke, diabetes, and behavioral disorders. Thus knowing the early signs and seeking help is crucial for prompt treatment. 

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