Sleep Apnea: What are the symptoms?

Sleep Apnea: What are the symptoms?

Many people struggle to get a restful night’s sleep. Daily stresses and the inability to calm the brain down at night can result in daily fatigue for many. However, there is a condition called sleep apnea that can interrupt a night’s sleep hundreds of times each night.

Patients suffering from sleep apnea may experience interruptions throughout the night from shallow breathing to actual pauses where breathing stops. The patient might not have any idea this is occurring; however, a partner may hear symptoms such as excessive snoring or periods of coughing or snorting during sleep.

The individual with this condition may experience fatigue, but since they are unaware of the breathing disorder, may attribute their tiredness to other issues. 

Patients suffering from sleep apnea may experience interruptions throughout the night from shallow breathing to actual pauses where breathing stops.

There are different kinds of sleep apnea, but many patients deal with tissue in the throat that relaxes during sleep resulting in an obstruction in the airway. These patients may benefit from a visit with their dentist to discuss options to bring relief.

There are oral appliances that will keep the mouth and tongue positioned to prevent the tissues from collapsing and blocking the airway. Placement of the jaw can have a major impact on this condition, and your dentist can fit you with a custom appliance to provide a solution.

Advanced age, tobacco use, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption … these are all possible contributors to sleep apnea; however, these conditions being present do not necessarily mean the patient will suffer from sleep apnea. And although snoring is one indicator of sleep apnea, it is not a determining factor on its own.

Daily fatigue, headaches, inability to concentrate, irritability, and depression are normal residual feelings for people suffering from this sleep disorder. Individuals that must rely on alertness on the job are putting themselves and co-workers at risk if symptoms continue but remain untreated.

In addition to a visit with the dentist to discuss options for treatment, patients may also get relief by: sleeping on their side; losing weight; discontinuing tobacco use; avoiding excessive caffeine particularly in late afternoon or early evening; limiting alcohol consumption. Quite often the things we think will promote restful sleep (alcohol, sedatives, sleep aids) may actually have the opposite effect.

A sleep study will provide a definitive diagnosis if there are concerns about sleep apnea, but a visit with our dental team may provide relief through oral appliance therapy.

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