If on most mornings, you wake up with a headache, a dry mouth, and/or a sore throat, or if your partner constantly complains about your snoring, you may be suffering from a common sleep disorder that impacts nearly 22 million Americans each year: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
That sleepy, groggy feeling you have that drags into the afternoon? Quite possibly sleep apnea. Unable to concentrate during meetings and have grown uncharacteristically irritable? Sleep apnea could be to blame.
Everyone deserves quality rest. Once properly diagnosed, there are several treatment options available to address the disorder. If you believe sleep apnea could be controlling your life, read on to find out how therapy can provide you, and your partner, with relief.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder in which a person stops breathing multiple times during the night due to an obstructed, or partially obstructed, airway. These episodes are called apneas. An individual’s sleep apnea severity is determined by how many apneas the sufferer experiences per hour during one night.
Limited or interrupted breathing means less oxygen intake, causing blood oxygen concentration to fall to dangerously low levels. The reduced oxygen then triggers the brain to wake the body up in an effort to re-instigate breathing to keep the sufferer from suffocating.
A Nightly Struggle: Sleep Apnea Symptoms
If you have sleep apnea, your breathing can be affected for 10 to 30 seconds during each apnea. This can happen up to 400 times in one night.
For those who chronically suffer from sleep apnea, each morning/day you’ll experience symptoms from the above list. The best way to figure out how often your sleep apnea is impacting you, though, is by relying on a partner. If they aren’t already, ask your partner to inform you of these sleep disturbances.
Despite the severity of your sleep apnea on any given night, receiving treatment prevents future health complications. Leaving your sleeping disorder untreated can lead to serious health complications such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and more.
The most common sleep apnea symptoms include:
- Dry mouth
- Loud, chronic snoring
- Morning headaches and sore throats
- Fatigue during the day
- Short attention span
- Memory loss
- Periods of sleep in which you stop breathing and/or gasp for air
- Insomnia symptoms such as waking up randomly throughout the night and being unable to fall back asleep
How Can You Treat Your Sleep Apnea?
Once diagnosed with sleep apnea, you can start looking into various methods of treatment.
- CPAP // The most widely prescribed treatment option is the continuous positive airway pressure device—a CPAP machine. It uses a small mask that goes over your nose and mouth and continuously blows air to open up your airway while you sleep. Some people have trouble tolerating a CPAP for various reasons – they may find it uncomfortable, restrictive, or that it induces feelings of claustrophobia.
- SURGERY // Surgery is common for treating sleep apnea in children, as often it’s a child’s tonsils that are causing the issue. Treating sleep apnea through surgery in adults, though, can be a multi-step process—and it’s not common for individuals to have to continue using a CPAP or oral appliance after surgery. You can find a list of procedures done to treat sleep apnea here.
- ORAL APPLIANCE THERAPY // If you feel averse to using a CPAP machine, an oral appliance device might be for you. A dental sleep specialist can provide you with an oral appliance specially made to reposition your jaw and tongue to help open up your airway. Many patients prefer an oral appliance because it’s more comfortable and less cumbersome to sleep with. For those with severe sleep apnea, it has been found that combination therapy (oral appliance + CPAP) works effectively.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, you’re not alone. Knowing what symptoms to look out for is a great first step in identifying the disorder and seeking help. Everyone deserves a great night of rest so they feel fully functioning and productive each day!
If you’re affected by one or more symptoms on this list, a sleep physician, such as Sleep Dallas’ Dr. Dibra or Dr. Smith, can work with you to establish a diagnosis. Ready to take the next steps to receive help? Schedule today your consultation with Sleep Dallas.
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