What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a breathing issue during sleep that disrupts your sleep by blocking your airway periodically during the night. With OSA, your tongue blocks the airway at the back of the throat when you inhale while asleep. The oxygen level in your bloodstream and brain drops, triggering you to partially awaken so that your tongue moves out of the blocked airway, allowing normal breathing. This pattern can cycle throughout the night, causing loud snoring and disrupted sleep despite you not being aware that you frequently wake slightly during the night.
Left untreated, sleep apnea and the resulting cycles of low oxygen levels can cause serious cardiovascular problems. Patients who do not get enough deep, restful sleep can suffer from brain fog, daytime sleepiness, and irritability. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, it is crucial to get a proper diagnosis. While the signs and symptoms are easily recognizable, a sleep apnea diagnosis is usually confirmed after a sleep study. During the sleep study, you are monitored throughout the night. Medical equipment charts your brain, heart, and lung functions, breathing patterns, blood oxygen levels, and body movements while sleeping.
What Is Likely to Be Affected by Sleep Apnea?
Although anyone can develop sleep apnea, it is more common in men than women. Nearly one in four men experience sleep apnea, while one in ten women experience it. It can develop at any stage in life but is most common in people over age 50 and those who are severely overweight.
One of the difficulties of sleep apnea is its effect on others. Individuals with sleep apnea often report that intense, loud snoring affects their spouses and children. You may have obstructive sleep apnea if your snoring is loud enough to disrupt others.
What are the Signs of Sleep Apnea?
The symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Dry mouth in the morning
- Gasping for air when asleep
- Period pauses in breathing while sleeping
- Difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep
- Daytime grogginess
- Brain fog
- Headaches, particularly in the morning
Where Can I Get Sleep Apnea Treatment?
If a sleep apnea diagnosis has brought you to Bethesda Center for Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, your physician or other health care professional is concerned your sleep apnea needs the medical intervention a dental specialist can provide. Dr. Greenbaum has successfully treated many patients with sleep apnea, improving their sleep and overall health.
Dr. Greenbaum takes a conservative approach, starting with exercises and adjustments in your sleep habits. Several other treatment options are available if these are ineffective, ranging from a CPAP machine to oral appliances custom designed for you.