If someone has told you that you snore recently, your first reaction may be embarrassment. But you should also be concerned about the implications it might have for your health. Sometimes, snoring is more than just an annoyance; it can also be a sign of a severe sleep disorder that can have life-threatening complications. Here’s what you need to know about sleep apnea in La Mesa – and why it needs to be treated as soon as possible.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and restarts while asleep. The most common kind is obstructive sleep apnea where there’s a physical cause such as relaxed throat muscles; less frequently seen is central sleep apnea, which is the result of the brain failing to send the proper signals to the muscles. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of both forms.
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Snoring is often the most notable sign of sleep apnea and is usually observed by a spouse or a roommate. If you live alone, it can be harder to identify, but symptoms can include:
- Occasionally awakening gasping for air
- Experiencing dry mouth when you wake up
- Morning headaches
- Insomnia or daytime sleepiness
- Having a hard time paying attention or being more irritable
Note that a sleep study will usually be required to definitively diagnose this condition.
What Happens if Sleep Apnea is Untreated?
Sleep apnea can affect the quality of your rest, causing you to feel fatigued during the day. Even worse, over time it can lead to high blood pressure, making a heart attack or stroke more likely. Other conditions connected to sleep apnea include type 2 diabetes, liver problems, and complications after medication and surgery.
What Should I Do if I Have Sleep Apnea?
If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, you’ll want to seek professional treatment as soon as possible. Many dentists are trained to identify this disorder and can prescribe the appropriate treatment.
One possible method is with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. It provides a constant stream of steady air pressure throughout the night. However, many patients find it too noisy or bulky. For this reason, oftentimes a snoring appliance is used instead. This custom-fitted device keeps the mouth and everything in it positioned to avoid physical obstruction; a 95% to 100% reduction in snoring is usually reported.
Remember that the negative effects of sleep disorders tend to worsen over time, so a swift response may be the key to avoiding the most severe problems. If someone lets you know that you snore, schedule an appointment right away to find out if it’s a sign of sleep apnea that needs to be addressed.
About the Author
Dr. Peter F. Johnson is a board-certified prosthodontist who helps treat a variety of oral health issues at his private practice in La Mesa. He is a specialist in the area of Sleep Apnea/Snoring Appliances. To schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (619) 463-3737.