In today’s video, our own Dr. Jennifer Mullarkey discusses our approach to identifying and treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Millions of Americans suffer from poor sleep as a result of this disorder. Losing sleep can lead to serious complications and make work or school very difficult. Learn more about sleep apnea with today’s video, including symptoms to watch for.
Causes and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea develops when a patient stops breathing while sleeping. The cessation of breathing happens when the soft tissue in the back of the throat becomes overly relaxed, collapsing and blocking airflow. Once the brain registers the lack of oxygen, the patient is woken up to start breathing. The cycle of waking and going back to sleep can happen a dozen or more times per hour in some cases, despite patients having no memory of the episodes. Common warning signs include:
- Loud, persistent snoring
- Episodes of waking up gasping for air/choking
- Irritability and trouble focusing on tasks during the day
If you often feel exhausted during the day or exhibit any of the other symptoms mentioned above, then consider contacting your dentist for a diagnosis and to receive treatment. Over time, untreated OSA can lead to a high risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
Possible Treatment Options
In some cases, changes to your lifestyle and sleeping habits can ease symptoms, such as sleeping on your side, losing weight, and maintaining a regular sleep schedule. The doctor may also suggest an oral appliance. The device looks similar to a night guard and is worn while you sleep, repositioning the jaw to keep airways open. If you have any questions about treating OSA then please contact our office today.