Sleep ApneaAn Overview
Sleep apnea is a common and complex health condition affecting millions of Americans. This condition can cause oral and systemic health complications that can impact the quality life. People with sleep apnea are unable to enjoy a full restful night of sleep. If you wake suddenly gasping for air, wake with chronic headaches, have trouble focusing during the day, find yourself falling asleep during the day, or snore loudly, you may be experiencing this type of sleep disorder. Chronic fatigue, depression, and irritability are also symptoms.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Snoring by itself is generally not a health problem but it can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 50% of people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is typically caused by an obstruction of the upper airway during sleep resulting from the collapse of soft tissues at the back of the throat. The airway becomes blocked, and patients are momentarily unable to breathe, cutting oxygen off from vital organs.
If you or someone you know snores loudly, you might not think of visiting the dentist for treatment. Summit, NJ area dentist, Dr. Raj Upadya, practices what is known as “complete dentistry”, considering the patient as a whole to treat underlying problems and conditions associated with the mouth, teeth, and TMJ. The position of the jaws and related structures influences the development of sleep apnea, making the dentist a key professional in the diagnosis and treatment for select cases. Dr. Upadya has advanced training in treating diagnosed sleep disorders. If necessary, Dr. Upadya will work with your physician to coordinate a diagnostic sleep study.
There is no single cause for snoring or sleep apnea. Anyone could develop it however there are several risk factors including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Family history of OSA
- Narrow airway or small lower jaw
- Constant nasal congestion
- Women who are post-menopausal
- Drinking alcohol
- Being a male over 40 especially if you have a large neck circumference
Snoring and OSA can be made worse by drinking, smoking or using sedatives. Untreated sleep apnea in adults could lead to an increased risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure due to drops in the blood oxygen level, type 2 diabetes, and strokes. If left untreated, the higher risk of developing larger health problems can make existing medical conditions harder to manage.