Everyone will snore occasionally, and especially if you have a heavy cold or allergies. But, if you are aware of snoring more regularly, or if a sleeping partner has complained you are keeping them awake, it is possible you could have a condition called sleep apnea. Unlike regular snoring, sleep apnea is characterized by frequent pauses in breathing and episodes of loud snoring. Breathing can cease for several seconds or more each time. When it restarts, it is often with a loud gasp or snort. If this sounds a bit too familiar, it could be worth investigating if you have sleep apnea, or if you do just simply snore rather loudly!
What are the Signs of Sleep Apnea?
The main sign of sleep apnea is loud snoring, but this is punctuated with episodes where breathing stops or gasping for air while asleep. People with sleep apnea in Oshawa will often wake with a headache, or with a dry, sore throat. They might find it difficult to stay asleep due to insomnia, and during the day they will often feel excessively tired, which may increase irritability. Tiredness can make it more difficult to pay attention during work or at school and can increase the risk of workplace accidents when operating machinery or while driving.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
There are two types of sleep apnea as it can be due to the brain failing to send the correct signals to the muscles controlling breathing, but the more common form is obstructive sleep apnea. With obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles in the throat relax during sleep, and the airway narrows or collapses while the tongue can fall backwards, partially or entirely obstructing the airway. When you cannot get enough air, oxygen levels in your body will fall, eventually alerting your body to restart breathing with a gasp or snort. These episodes can occur multiple or even hundreds of times a night. While they might not wholly awaken you, they are enough to prevent you from reaching the deep, restful stages of sleep that are essential for good health. In fact, untreated sleep apnea can have a significant impact on your overall health.
Potential Complications of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can affect your health in numerous ways. When blood oxygen levels fall as breathing stops, it increases blood pressure and can put a strain on your cardiovascular system. This, in turn, may increase your risk of stroke or heart attacks. Your risk of developing insulin resistance and Type II diabetes is higher, as is your risk of metabolic syndrome. This is a disorder which affects cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar, and it is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
What to Do If You Think You Might Have Sleep Apnea
If you think you may have sleep apnea or if a sleeping partner recognizes some of these symptoms, it is worth seeking professional medical care. Usually, a sleep study in Ajax is needed to determine the type and severity of sleep apnea and the information obtained will allow suitable treatment to be provided.
There are two main ways to treat sleep apnea. Severe sleep apnea is frequently treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine (CPAP) and which provides a continuous flow of pressurized air through a small mask worn during sleep. Moderate or mild sleep apnea can often be treated with an oral device which is a custom-made mouthguard or splint.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, we can provide custom splints here at Margolian Dentistry. Our dentist in Whitby will design the night guard, so your lower jaw and the base of your tongue are in a slightly forward position. When your throat muscles relax during sleep, the airway cannot collapse inwards, and the tongue won’t fall backwards, and you can enjoy a more restful night’s sleep.