Sleep apnea is a widespread, yet potentially serious condition that causes the sufferer to stop breathing intermittently during their sleep. There are two primary types of sleep apnea: the more common and easily treatable obstructive sleep apnea, and central sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction in the nose or mouth, which prevents airflow. This, in turn, results in a pause in breathing that can last from seconds to minutes. In some cases, these breathing pauses can occur over 30 times per hour. The repeated interruptions of normal breathing lead to a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, as well as a buildup of carbon dioxide.
Identifying Sleep Apnea
While sleep apnea can initially present asymptomatically, the sufferer will experience more disruption in their life as the condition gets more severe. The primary symptoms occur during sleep, as the brain senses the imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood and wakes the body.
This sudden awakening is accompanied by loud snoring, or sudden gasps, or choking as the body tries to correct the breathing process. The sufferer may not notice these episodes, as they are still partially unconscious. However, the snoring can be severe enough to awaken anyone nearby. Onlookers may also observe the breathing pause in action.
The poor sleep quality caused by these repeated episodes will result in excessive sleepiness during the day, and other symptoms of fatigue. Repeated morning headaches are a common symptom, as are increased irritability and depression, difficulty concentrating, and high blood pressure.
These symptoms are potentially deadly. In an advanced case of sleep apnea, the constant imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood can lead to severe cardiovascular conditions. These complications can be life-threatening. The waking symptoms stemming from increased fatigue are also dangerous, as they increase the risk of the sufferer falling asleep at work or while driving.
Because of the severity of these symptoms, it’s important to seek an early diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea. Fortunately, obstructive sleep apnea can be treated by Dental Care of Jackson Hole, your local dentist at Jackson, Wyoming.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Before commencing with treatment, the dentist will conduct some tests to investigate the issue and determine the ideal treatment. Depending on the patient, the dentist may recommend lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, the consumption of alcohol, and the use of certain drugs. These habits aggravate the condition and stopping them may make the symptoms less severe.
A common treatment for moderate or severe is the CPAP machine, which involves the patient wearing a face mask that delivers air at a higher pressure and keeps the airways open. However, many people find this machine cumbersome and uncomfortable.
Another, less invasive, dental device is also available. This device brings the jaw forward, ensuring that the throat remains clear and the airways open. This option is gentle and doesn’t require surgery.
There is also a surgical option that provides a permanent solution. This surgery involves sectioning the lower jaw of the patient and pulling the bone that holds the tongue forwards. This will prevent the tongue from obstructing the airways and causing difficulty breathing during sleep.