Do you snore frequently? Many of us do, but sometimes snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that can potentially cause serious health problems.
What is the Difference Between Snoring and Sleep Apnea?
Whereas snoring is usually continuous, sleep apnea is characterized by frequent pauses in breath. Breathing can cease entirely for several seconds and will often restart with a loud gasp or snort. These episodes can occur multiple times each night and prevent sufferers from achieving the deep, restful sleep that we need to wake up feeling refreshed and energized the next morning.
What are the Health Problems Associated with Sleep Apnea?
Although breathing is interrupted, it is usually not enough to completely awaken a person with sleep apnea, so it might seem as if you have been asleep for hours. Consequently, it can make little sense when you awaken feeling fatigued and suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness. A lack of sleep can make it tricky to concentrate properly, increasing the risk of accidents and especially if you need to drive or operate machinery. Other symptoms include waking up with a headache or dry mouth, and generally feeling irritable because you are tired the whole time.
Other far more serious complications can affect general health, and which include high blood pressure or heart problems. Sleep apnea can increase the risk of insulin resistance and Type II diabetes. Your risk of metabolic syndrome can increase too and is a disorder that includes high cholesterol and high blood sugar, and which is linked to heart disease. Then there is the effect on any sleeping partner, as loud snoring can make it impossible for them to get any rest.
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
Usually, sleep apnea is diagnosed by a sleep specialist, and you may need to be monitored overnight in a sleep clinic. Sleep apnea is caused when the airway narrows during sleep as the muscles in the throat relax, so your doctor might refer you to an ear, nose and throat doctor to see if there are any blockages in your throat or nose. Once they have diagnosed the reason for your sleep apnea and its severity, they will discuss suitable treatments. Often, it is possible to see your dentist in Ajax to be fitted for an oral appliance.
Treating Sleep Apnea
One possible treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea is to contact Margolian Dentistry. Our dentist in Whitby can provide you with a custom-made night splint to wear during sleep. This is an oral appliance that helps to hold open your airway while you sleep. It works by holding your lower jaw in a slightly forward position and which helps to move forward the base of the tongue. Now, while you sleep the tongue cannot fall backwards so easily, and the throat muscles are prevented from collapsing inwards. Once you become accustomed to wearing it, the oral appliance should feel quite comfortable and will allow you and those closest to you to get a good night’s sleep.
More severe sleep apnea is frequently treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, called CPAP for short. This device requires users to wear a small mask during sleep, so a continuous flow of air can be pumped into the nose, keeping the airway open. Although effective, some people find the machine difficult to tolerate and might find it easier to try an oral appliance in Oshawa.
Sometimes, lifestyle remedies can help to make treatment more effective, such as maintaining a normal weight, exercising regularly and avoiding alcohol and smoking. Also, it could help to avoid sleeping on your back and instead try sleeping on your front or side.