Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Do you snore? Do you know someone who does? Did you know that snoring could be dangerous to your health? Snoring is one symptom of sleep apnea. This serious condition causes you to stop breathing while sleeping. This can lead to life-threatening heart disease and a shorter life span.
Snoring is the result of air passing through a restricted space creating vibration. It happens when muscles are weakened, the tongue blocks the airway, or excess soft tissue is present in the throat. As you fall asleep, the muscles in your throat, like your other muscles, relax and partially block your airway.
Obstructive sleep apnea is also caused by airway restrictions, for the same reasons. However, instead of the airway being restricted, it is completely blocked. When that happens, breathing ceases for several seconds. This is known as an apneic event. During such events, the oxygenation level of your blood will drop, depriving your organs of oxygen. When your brain registers the danger, it sends distress signals that disrupt your deep sleep.
Although you may never fully awaken during an apneic event, your blood pressure and heart rate spike as your body attempts to replenish oxygen. Your lungs also work harder, causing loud gasping or snoring. These events occur many times each hour.
Signs of sleep apnea are:
- sleepiness during the daytime
- waking with a dry mouth or sore throat
- morning headaches
- stopping breathing while sleeping
True sleep apnea can only be diagnosed by medical professionals doing tests through sleep studies. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, there are several ways it can be treated.
A CPAP device is worn over your nose and forces oxygen under pressure to keep your airway open. Some people find these very uncomfortable and cannot wear them. There are several dental appliances that can be worn to help maintain an open airway and reduce the harmful effects of sleep apnea.
If you snore (or listen to someone who snores!) or if you have any of these other symptoms, please call our office at (903) 753-0337
for an appointment.
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