Sleep Apnea – It’s not just about snoring!
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.
There are three main types of sleep apnea,
- Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax. These muscles support the soft palate, the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula), the tonsils, the side walls of the throat and the tongue. When these muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes which can lower the oxygen level in your blood. Your brain senses this and briefly rouses you from sleep so you can reopen your airway. You may not even be aware this is happening. This pattern can occur 5 to 30 times or more each hour, all night, impairing your ability to reach the deep, restful phases of sleep.
- Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring can indicate a potentially serious problem, however, not everyone who has sleep apnea snores.
- Episodes where you stop breathing during sleep and gasp for air.
- Dry mouth in the morning
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty paying attention
- Lack of energy
- Sexual issues
Sleep apnea can affect anyone, even children. But certain factors increase your risk.
- Excess weight. Obesity greatly increases the risk of sleep apnea. Fat deposits around upper airway can obstruct your breathing.
- Neck Circumference. People with thicker necks might have narrower airways.
- A narrowed airway. You may have inherited a narrow throat. Tonsils or adenoids also can enlarge and block the airway, particularly in children.
- Being male. Men are 2 to 3 times more likely to have sleep apnea than are women. However, women increase their risk if they are overweight, and the risk rises after menopause.
- Being older. Sleep apnea occurs significantly more often in older adults.
- Family history. Having family members with sleep apnea might increase your risk.
- Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers. These substances relax the muscles in your throat, which can worsen obstructive sleep apnea.
- Smokers are 3 times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are people who have never smoked. Smoking can increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
- Nasal congestion. If you have difficulty breathing through your nose, whether from an anatomical problem or allergies, you are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. Complications can include:
- Daytime fatigue. The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible, making severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability likely. You may have difficulty concentrating and find yourself falling asleep at work, while watching TV or even when driving.
- You may feel quick-tempered, moody, anxious or depressed. Children and adolescents with sleep apnea might perform poorly in school or have behavior problems.
- High blood pressure or heart problems. Sudden drops of blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. Obstructive sleep apnea might also increase the risk of recurrent heart attack, stroke and abnormal heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation. If you have heart disease, multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can lead to sudden death from an irregular heartbeat.
- Type 2 diabetes. Having sleep apnea increases your risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
- Complications with medications and surgery. People with sleep apnea might be more likely to have complications after major surgery because they’re prone to breathing problems, especially when sedated and lying on their backs
- Liver problems. People with sleep apnea are more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests, and their livers are more likely to show signs of scarring (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).
Consequences of sleep apnea may become very serious and affect quality of life. Davidson Family Dentistry offers you the opportunity to come in for a consultation and evaluation. Call our office (515-279-3848) to schedule an appointment to see if you would be a candidate for an oral device. If sleep apnea is diagnosed we may be able to fit you with a custom oral sleep appliance.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Posted August 21st, 2019