Wilmington's Smile Design Center
Sleep apnea is generally defined as interrupted breathing when you sleep, and it has serious health implications. The effects can range from short term irritability due to uneasy sleep to serious health problems such as heart failure and in some extreme cases, death.
Different types of sleep apnea
There three main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea, which occurs when throat muscles partially or completely block your upper airway while you sleep.
- Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain doesn’t send the proper signals to your respiratory muscles, which causes you to not breath. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea where you are physically unable to breath, with central sleep apnea your muscles are capable of breathing, however your brain isn’t telling them to do so.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also referred to as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, occurs when someone has both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
The symptoms of sleep apnea are tough to spot on your own because they typically only occur when you’re asleep. If you share a bed with a partner, they are actually more likely to pick up on the symptoms than you are. Some of the major symptoms to keep an eye out for include:
- Chronic snoring
- Pauses in breathing during sleep
- Waking up short of breath
- Daytime fatigue regardless of how long you slept
- Choking, snorting, or gasping for air during sleep
While your partner may be better suited to identify the major symptoms of sleep apnea, there are several that you can watch for on your own, but they don’t necessarily mean that you have sleep apnea. If you’re struggling with any of the following, you should contact your doctor for further evaluation:
- Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking up
- Insomnia, or otherwise restless sleep
- Frequent trips to the bathroom during the night
- Difficulty concentrating during the day, regardless of sleep
- Mood swings, irritability, or depression
- Headaches in the morning
Sleep Apnea Treatment
In the past, the only treatments for sleep apnea were a CPAP machine or surgery. A CPAP machine, or continuous positive airflow pressure machine, covers your nose and mouth and keeps your breathing passages open with a constant stream of air while you sleep. While it works for some, many people try and quit using the CPAP machine because it is loud, uncomfortable and bulky.
Surgery is also an option for treatment, but it can be fairly invasive. The surgeon may need to remove your tonsils, adenoids, throat tissue, nose tissue, or even reconstruct the jaw to increase the size of your airway. Depending on your specific diagnosis, this could mean a long recovery time and potential complications down the road.
A Better Way to Treat Sleep Apnea
We can treat sleep apnea non-surgically with a specially designed mouth guard that maintains the jaw in the proper position to keep the airway open while you sleep, also known as oral appliance therapy. If you tried a CPAP machine and it didn’t work for you, you should consider trying oral appliance therapy. There’s no pumps, no hoses, no mask, and no noise. All you do is put a small mouthpiece in before you go to sleep, it’s as simple as that.
If you are interested in treatments for sleep apnea, please contact us today for a consultation.
Sleep Apnea Is Extremely Under Diagnosed
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