The 411 On Sleep Apnea: What You Need To Know About This Sleep Disorder

From insomnia and narcolepsy to walking or talking in your sleep, the different disorders that prevent you from having a peaceful night's rest can be overwhelming. Fortunately, most disorders are treatable with medications, but certain conditions require a more involved form of treatment. Considering sleep apnea affects more than 18 million adults in America, understanding this disorder is essential. Not only is treatment necessary to prevent this dangerous loss of breath while sleeping, but treatment reduces the risk of developing heart disease, depression, memory loss, and diabetes. Using this guide, you will understand this life-threatening condition and learn the best options to treat your case of sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing numerous times while asleep, increasing your need to catch your breath by waking up to catch your breath. Unfortunately, you may not even realize you are waking up during the night, so paying attention to the symptoms of sleep apnea is smart. Here are some common symptoms of this dangerous disorder:

  • Loud Snoring
  • Dry Mouth and Sore Throat After Waking
  • Headaches after Waking
  • Irritability from Fatigue
  • Sleepiness During the Day
  • Insomnia
  • Stress and Anxiety Disorder due to Chronic Fatigue

The causes of sleep apnea are difficult to understand, since each person will have a different severity of the condition. However, certain conditions will increase your risk of developing sleep apnea.

If you are overweight, you are most likely to develop the disorder due to the excess fat around the neck, chest, and abdomen. This excess tissue and fat will prevent your airway from opening properly while asleep, leading to the breathing lapses associated with sleep apnea.

Also, smoking or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol causes inflammation and fluid to build up in the throat and airway. This can create difficulty breathing while asleep.

Treating Sleep Apnea

If you are displaying any of the above symptoms of sleep apnea, notify your doctor immediately. Since the disorder prevents you from breathing while asleep, immediate treatment is imperative to prevent further complications or even death.

Your doctor will use a sleep study to diagnose your sleep apnea. This will require you to sleep at a testing facility or hospital overnight, allowing your doctor to monitor your sleep habits while checking for breathing lapses.

If diagnosed with sleep apnea, do not panic, since treatment is available. In most cases, your doctor will recommend PAP therapy. PAP, or Positive Airway Pressure, is the most common form of treatment. While an effective form of treatment, adjusting to the PAP mask will require some time.

The therapy involves wearing a mouth, nasal, or full face mask that is connected to a hose, connected to a machine. This machine will force air through the hose and into your mask, preventing your airway from closing while asleep. PAP therapy will prevent the breathing lapses and constant waking sleep apnea causes.

While surprising for many patients to learn, your dentist can also help treat your sleep apnea. Consult your dentist to determine if OAT is a smart option for your treatment needs. OAT, or Oral Appliance Therapy, involves wearing a plastic or acrylic guard in the mouth while you are sleeping. The appliance will keep your throat open, allowing you to breathe without difficulty.

OAT is a more comfortable option for patients who are unable to adjust to wearing a PAP mask while sleeping. It is also easier to transport for travel, since you will only need to place the mouth guard in a clean case.

Sleep apnea may seem to only affect your nightly rest, but it can wreak havoc on your life. With this guide and the help of your medical and dental providers, you will be able to understand and treat this sleep disorder.

For more information, talk with your doctor and dentist or visit websites like

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