An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. They estimate that 80 percent of these people have obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects men, women and children.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that deprives the body of oxygen and increases the risk of health issues. It is the involuntary cessation of breath while sleeping. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing as many as hundreds of times per night.
There are three types of sleep apnea: central, obstructive, and mixed.
Central sleep apnea (CSA), the least common form, occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common type, is caused by blockage of the airway. This is usually the result of the collapse of the tongue and soft tissue in the rear throat.
Mixed sleep apnea occurs when patients show symptoms of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Signs of sleep apnea
A sleep study can determine the presence, type, and severity of sleep apnea. The following are signs of sleep apnea:
- Loud snoring
- Chronic fatigue
- Frequent awakening out-of-breath at night
- Dry mouth
Sleep apnea and your health
The effects of sleep apnea can jeopardize your health, if left untreated. In fact, it’s estimated that 80 percent of Americans are undiagnosed but suffer from sleep apnea. Over time, sleep apnea can cause serious health issues, including:
Studies have shown that poor sleep quality increases the risk of high blood pressure. Frequent nighttime awakening and low blood-oxygen levels put those with obstructive sleep apnea at high risk for resistant hypertension, which does not respond to most medicines.
Hypertensive heart disease is the number one cause of death associated with high blood pressure. It thickens the heart muscle, and if untreated, it may cause heart failure. Statistics show that obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of heart failure by 140% and coronary heart disease by 30%.
Obesity can be both a cause and an effect of sleep apnea. As many as two thirds of people with sleep apnea are overweight. The extra fatty deposits in the neck can block the airway at night. The lack of quality sleep can also increase weight gain by slowing metabolism and increasing the hormones that make you crave carbohydrates and sweets.
Sleep apnea deprives your body of sleep and oxygen, putting your health at risk. Hypertension is the single most important risk factor for stroke. It can also lead to diseases such as diabetes and kidney disease. Asthma and acid reflux can also arise from untreated sleep apnea.
Treating sleep apnea
If you have experienced any of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, speak with your medical doctor. There are several ways to treat sleep apnea and each depend on your doctor’s diagnosis. Some treatments can include the following:
- Dietary changes
- Quit smoking
- Breathing device
- Oral appliance
If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and your doctor gives you a prescription for an oral appliance, give us a call. Guru Dentistry of Irvine has been treating patients with obstructive sleep apnea for years. We provide a custom fit orthotic for you to wear at night that keeps the jaw in position and prevents it from blocking the upper airway.
Please contact us if you have any questions about sleep apnea or oral appliance therapy. Once your sleep apnea is treated, you’ll finally get a good night’s sleep.
*Featured image credit: The Mayo Clinic.