Sleep apnea can really wreak havoc on your life — and your partner’s. When you have this condition, you stop breathing several times an hour, which results in feeling like you can never get a good night’s sleep.
The standard treatment for sleep apnea is usually a machine called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP.) While this treatment can work, it is often difficult to get people to comply with regular use. It’s often very difficult to get used to wearing one. In this blog, Dr. Joseph Z. Yousefian of Yousefian Orthodontics for Children, Teens and Adults in Bellevue, Washington, explains more about what sleep apnea is and how you can treat it.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea has two form, central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea is a comparatively uncommon condition, in which your brain doesn’t send signals to your body to keep your airways open while you sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea is by far the more common condition. Your breathing stops several times an hour because your airways become blocked. The muscles that control your breathing become too relaxed and cause your throat to close. This often results in snoring because you gasp for breath when you start breathing again.
The causes of obstructive sleep apnea
The causes of obstructive sleep apnea are often reversible, although it’s not easy. The most common causes of sleep apnea include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having high blood pressure
- Having asthma
- Having a thick or large neck
- Having smaller airways in your mouth, throat, or nose
- Having diabetes
- Drinking alcohol before bed
- Using narcotics or other medications that put you to sleep
In addition, other risk factors include being older, male, or being of black, Native American, or Hispanic descent.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
The symptoms of sleep apnea are pretty clear once you recognize them, but it’s possible to go through life being unaware that you have it. Common symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Lack of concentration
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Having headaches in the morning
- Falling asleep during the day
- Being told that you snore
Although these symptoms are bothersome in themselves, they also take a toll on your health. Not breathing properly while you sleep means that you don’t get enough oxygen in your blood. This increases your risk of heart and liver problems, stroke, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Treatment options for sleep apnea
Although you can try using a CPAP machine to help your sleep apnea, many people find this to be an unacceptable solution. An estimated 50% of people diagnosed with sleep apnea don’t use the CPAP machines that are prescribed for them.
A CPAP machine includes wearing a mask over your nose and mouth while the machine blows air into your lungs.
If you aren’t able to wear a CPAP machine or you prefer not to, the good news is that you have other effective alternatives. You can try teledontics, which supports the alignment of your airways and gradually helps to reshape them by expanding your upper arches, nasal cavities, and your lower jaw.
If you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, a doctor or dentist can often diagnose it by an examination of your mouth and jaw. Contact Dr. Joseph Z. Yousefian of Yousefian Orthodontics for Children, Teens and Adults today, or request an appointment online.