Grinding gravel, sawing logs…if you are a frequent snorer, you know there’s no good way to put it. If your snoring has been affecting your or your family members’ sleep, you may be wondering, do I have sleep apnea? Here are a few things to look for when determining if you are simply a noisy sleeper or are suffering from the more serious medical condition of sleep apnea.
- What is Sleep Apnea?
- Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
- Is Sleep Apnea Treatable?
What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when soft tissue in the throat partially or completely blocks the airway. This blockage causes decreased oxygen in the body. The lack of oxygen will cause the person to wake, oftentimes gasping for air, even if just for a moment. This process may happen repeatedly throughout the night. The pattern of interrupted sleep can cause significant fatigue during the day, as well as early morning headaches and hypertension.
Upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) is a related condition. This occurs when the soft tissue of the throat causes the airway too narrow but not completely close. UARS also affects nighttime breathing, but not enough for the person to wake up.
So how can you tell the difference between simple snoring and sleep apnea or UARS? If your snoring is mild, consistent, doesn’t wake you, and never disrupts your breathing, it could be regular, run-of-the-mill snoring.
If your snoring is loud, irregular, wakes you or others up, or causes you to stop breathing or makes you gasp for air, it’s possible that sleep apnea is to blame. If you are experiencing these symptoms or often feel deeply drowsy or irritable after a night’s sleep, you should see your doctor.
Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
Some factors put you more at risk for having sleep apnea. These include being overweight, male, or over the age of forty. You may also be at higher risk if you have a large tongue or tonsils, family members with sleep apnea, or nasal obstruction caused by a deviated septum, sinus problems, or allergies.
Sleep apnea is more than just a nuisance. It’s a serious medical condition that can result in high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure or heart attack, diabetes, depression, or worsening of ADHD. If you suspect you are suffering from sleep apnea, getting it treated is essential for maintaining good overall health and preventing further health issues.
Is Sleep Apnea Treatable?
Sleep apnea is treatable. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight and avoiding alcohol may help improve your condition. Your doctor may also recommend surgery or that you use a C-PAP machine at night to help keep your airway open.
Sleep Apnea Treatment in Madison, Wisconsin
For patients unable to wear C-PAP units, Affiliated Dentists offers sleep apnea oral appliances. Mandibular advancement therapy by use of positioning appliances is very effective in treating snoring and moderate sleep disorders. Most medical insurances will cover benefits upon a referral from a physician’s office.
Do I Have Sleep Apnea? brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson