Awareness of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has blossomed in recent years, and many people have been diagnosed and treated as a result. However, for many people this very common condition remains a silent threat to their overall short- and long-term health. Many people know a little bit about sleep apnea, but don’t know enough about the warning signs to consider it a risk to their own health. For example, did you know that not all sleep apnea sufferers are snorers? If you’ve ever thought. “I don’t need to worry about sleep apnea because I don’t snore,” this post will shed some light on the lesser-known symptoms and signs of the condition.
Why Sleep Apnea Warrants Your Attentions
Sleep apnea may be more common in older males, but the truth is that anyone can get it, even children. It’s a serious threat to your overall health because it deprives your body of two vital resources: oxygen and sleep. Your brain and body need ample oxygen and REM sleep, and sleep apnea deprives you of both these things.
Chronically reduced oxygen intake during the night can negatively affect every organ system in your body. This can lead to poor function of the cardiovascular system and lead to heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and other serious medical conditions.
Science doesn’t fully understand how REM-stage deep sleep restores and regenerates our body, but we know that depriving your body of it has disastrous cognitive and immune system implications. When you stop breathing in your sleep, your brain sends a panic signal that forces you to wake. You may not be aware this has happened, but your sleep has been interrupted, often at the times you most need sustained sleep.
Possible Signs of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue of the throat relax so much that they block your airway. This causes you to breathe through the mouth, which usually gives way to snoring. But not every sufferer will be a noisy snorer. Just because your partner or roommate doesn’t complain about your snoring, it doesn’t mean you are necessarily breathing properly.
Other symptoms that can be a red flag include:
- Poor quality of sleep
- Feeling tired, even after a full night’s rest
- Day-time sleepiness, excessive yawning
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Insomnia or disrupted sleep (constant waking)
- Depression, irritability, or mood swings
- Poor immune function, getting sick a lot
- Being overweight, despite a healthy lifestyle
In addition to overall health issues, you may notice these specific details upon waking:
- Sore throat
- Dry mouth
- Generally feeling poorly upon waking
What You Should Do
If you think there’s a possibility you may have a sleep breathing disorder, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. He or she may recommend a sleep study at a sleep clinic, which is the only way to get a definitive diagnosis. He usual treatment for sleep apnea is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which is worn over the face when you sleep at night.
However, there are other sleep solutions that a dentist can provide to help with obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. Some patients who find CPAP machines cumbersome and difficult to use find that an oral appliance can help them breathe better at night. Oral appliances change the position of the jaw very slightly, which prevents the degree of obstruction and allows proper nasal breathing to resume.
Drs. Victoria Uryniak and Carson Ferris Zeolla can help you recognize the signs of sleep breathing disorders and can help you find a solution. Ask about your symptoms at your next appointment. Call us at (908) 200-7007 to make an appointment.