Do you snore and/or have trouble breathing when you’re sleeping? You may have sleep apnea. The good news? Dr. Lawrence at McKinney Smiles can help!
What is Sleep Apnea?
A potentially life-threatening sleep disorder, sleep apnea causes an individual’s breathing to repeatedly start and stop during rest. While not a definite indication, snoring loudly during rest and feeling exhausted even after receiving a full night’s sleep could suggest you suffer from sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can develop as:
- Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of apnea that causes the throat muscles to relax.
- Central sleep apnea, which develops when the brain doesn’t send the correct signals to the muscles that regulate breathing.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome, which occurs when a patient has both central and obstructive sleep apnea.
If you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, schedule a sleep apnea consultation with McKinney dentist Dr. Paul Lawrence today! Treatment can help to ease your symptoms so you rest better at night and may help to prevent the health complications linked to sleep apnea such as heart failure, stroke, hypertension, depression and diabetes.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
The signs and symptoms of central and obstructive sleep apnea can overlap, making diagnosing the type of apnea a patient suffers from more difficult. The most common signs of central and obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring, which typically is associated more prominently with obstructive sleep apnea
- Periodic episodes where breathing stops during sleep as witnessed by another person
- Abruptly wakening from sleep followed by shortness of breath, which typically is associated with central sleep apnea
- Experiencing a sore throat or dry mouth after waking
- Headache in the morning after waking
- Trouble staying or getting to sleep
- Excessive sleepiness during the daytime
- Problems focusing or paying attention
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea develops when the muscles located in the back of the throat relax during sleep. Normally, these muscles work to support the soft palate, a triangular shaped tissue that hangs from the side walls of the throat, the tonsils, the soft palate and the tongue.
Your airway in the throat narrows as the muscles relax, causing you to receive an inadequate amount of air. This could cause the oxygen levels in your blood to drop.
Your brain receives a signal that the body isn’t receiving enough oxygen and briefly stimulates you from sleep so that the airway can reopen. The time you spend awake is typically so brief that many people are unaware they ever woke up.
You may make a gasping, choking or snorting sound during sleep as a result of the lack of air your body is receiving. This pattern of collapsing airway, waking and fall back to sleep can occur between five to 30 times or more times an hour for the duration of the night. These frequent disruptions prevent you from receiving the necessary amount of REM sleep your body needs to feel fully rested the next day. Because the sleep you did receive was inadequate, sleep apnea is likely to make you feel tired and sluggish.
Most people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea don’t realize they have a problem. Typically, it takes encouragement of a partner who notices the poor sleep behavior before patients search for a sleep dentist for help.
While a less common form of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to transmit the proper signals to muscles that control breathing. This means your body fails to make any effort to breath for several seconds. Individuals suffering from central sleep apnea may frequently wake with shortness of breath or have troubling getting to or staying asleep.
Complications of Sleep Apnea
You should consider sleep apnea a serious medical condition. Complications may include:
- Daytime fatigue. Waking up repeatedly during the night due to sleep apnea makes normal sleep impossible. As a result, individuals who suffer from sleep apnea may experience severe irritability, fatigue and drowsiness during the day. You may have trouble concentrating and struggle with staying awake at work, while driving or during other daytime activities. People who suffer from sleep apnea have an increased risk of workplace and motor vehicle accidents.
- High blood pressure. Sleep apnea causes a sudden drop in oxygen levels in the blood, which results in additional strain being placed on the cardiovascular system. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you have a higher risk of high blood pressure when compared to people who do not.
- Type 2 diabetes. Individuals who suffer from sleep apnea have a greater risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes compared to those who don’t suffer from sleep apnea.
- Liver problems. Individuals who suffer from sleep apnea have a greater risk of developing abnormal liver function.
- Sleep-deprived partners. Snoring loudly at night can keep those around you from receiving a good night’s rest. It’s not uncommon for couples to sleep separately from each other so that the individuals without apnea can get a better night’s rest.
When to Seek Treatment
You should schedule a sleep apnea consultation with Dr. Lawrence if you experience, or if your partner notices, such symptoms as:
- Loud snoring that disrupts the sleep of you and others
- Shortness of breath that results in you waking from sleep choking or gasping for air
- Frequent pauses in your breathing during sleep
- Daytime drowsiness that causes you to fall asleep at work, watching TV or any other daily activity
While many people don’t consider snoring a sign of something potentially life-threatening, sleep apnea can take years off of your life if not properly treated. Be sure to schedule a consultation with sleep dentist Dr. Paul Lawrence if you experience loud episodes of snoring followed by moments of silence.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
As a sleep dentist in McKinney, Dr. Lawrence offers patients solutions for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and a Free Sleep Apnea Consultation. Click here to learn more about the treatment and diagnosis of sleep apnea, and how McKinney Smiles can help you stop snoring so you can sleep better.