Sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing periodically when you’re trying to sleep. Some patients can even stop breathing several hundred times per night. As you can imagine this causes a number of problems.
It not only makes you feel tired all the time, which can interfere with your memory and cause you to be irritable, but it’s also linked to several serious health problems. When you stop breathing, your blood oxygen levels can drop which can put you at a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and a condition called cardiomyopathy which involves the enlargement of your heart muscle tissue.Sleep apnea is also linked to Type 2 diabetes, work-related accidents, car accidents, and underachievement in school-aged children and adolescents. When you’re exhausted all day long, you can have problems concentrating and become more forgetful.
There are two types of sleep apnea. One is called central sleep apnea, and it is caused when the brain fails to signal your respiratory muscles to breathe. This type of sleep apnea is a problem with your central nervous system, and it’s not something your dentist can treat.
The other type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is the type of sleep apnea that a dentist can help with, and it is caused when the muscles in the back of your throat relax and partially block your airway. When this happens, the air struggles to pass through the airway causing the tissues to vibrate and that’s what causes the loud snoring typical of this sleep disorder.
Sleep apnea is more common in men with 25% of cases in male patients as compared to only 10% in women. It can happen to people of any age, even babies, but it is more common in people over 50 years old. Additionally, there are several physical traits that are associated with the problem.
Sleep apnea occurs more in people who are overweight, have a large neck, and any structural features that might reduce the diameter of their upper airway. These include people with some kind of nasal obstruction, those with a low-hanging soft palate, and those with enlarged tonsils, a small jaw, or an overbite.
Of course, there is snoring that is common with sleep apnea, but there are several other symptoms as well, including fatigue, an inability to concentrate, memory problems, headaches, night sweats, and frequent nighttime urination. It can also cause cognitive impairment, and in children, it can cause poor performance in school.
These are serious symptoms that can significantly impact your quality of life. But there is help, and Dr. Koehne at the Wheaton Dental Sleep Center is a great place to start.
At the Wheaton Dental Sleep Center, our goal is to help you get a good night’s sleep and stay healthy! Call our office today to find out more about sleep apnea and how Dr. Koehne can help!