Sleep apnea is a sleep breathing disorder characterized by pauses and interruptions in breathing. It is a serious medication condition and can have a significant impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available to help manage sleep apnea so you can get the rest you need and enjoy a healthier quality of life.
Signs & Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
It is estimated that as many as 15 million people suffer from sleep apnea. Many people with this condition are unaware that they have it, and is often first noticed by loved ones when something unusual is happening during their partner’s sleep. The primary characteristic of sleep apnea is pauses in breathing, which can occur as many as 40 times in a single minute. In some cases a pause may even last for up to a minute. People with sleep apnea often wake up feeling as if they received little or no sleep due to the fact that they have spent the night fighting to breathe normally and receive the proper amount of oxygen.
Other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Snoring, especially when combined with pauses in breathing
- Sleepiness and fatigue during the day
- Restless sleep and frequent nighttime urination
- Falling asleep while driving, working and reading
- Gasping and chocking sounds and sensations while asleep
- A sore throat upon waking
- Headaches upon waking
- Depression, anxiety and mood changes
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty concentrating and memory impairment
Sleep Apnea & Your Health
Sleep apnea has a significant impact on your overall health, as the quality of your sleep impacts every other aspect of your wellbeing. Individuals with this condition are at an increased risk for developing or worsening a number of physical and psychological conditions, including:
- Problems with the central nervous system, immune system or digestive system
- Problems with hormone production
- Heart disease and a weakened cardiovascular system
- Liver problems
- High or increased blood pressure
- Weight gain and obesity
- Impaired memory and difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety and depression
- Type 2 diabetes
- Poor balance
- Excessive daytime drowsiness (hypersomnia)
Insufficient sleep as a result of sleep apnea has been recognized as a global problem and a public health epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lack of sleep has been linked to car accidents and occupation accidents, and can make it difficult to function normally day-to-day. If you suspect that you or a loved one has sleep apnea, we strongly recommend that you seek a diagnosis so that you can receive treatment as soon as possible.
Treating Sleep Apnea
There are a number of treatments available to help manage sleep apnea. The “gold standard” for treating sleep apnea is the CPAP machine (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). This device sits beside your bed and blows air through an attachable mask to help keep your airways open so you can breath easily. However, many people find that they cannot tolerate CPAP treatment and seek alternative options.
Among the most common alternatives to CPAP devices is oral appliance therapy, such as a snore guard. Oral appliances are an excellent option for mild to moderate sleep apnea, and are custom-designed to ensure a comfortable fit while also keeping your airways open. Another option is NightLase® therapy, a type of laser treatment which involves the use of a soft tissue laser to tighten the tissues of the throat and prevent them from collapsing while asleep, thus keeping the airways open so you can breathe easily.
Please note that while our dentists and team offer snore guards and NightLase therapy, you will need to be diagnosed by a sleep physician. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, we recommend contacting your regular physician first. They can refer you to a specialist and help you make arrangements for a sleep study. After you have been diagnosed, our dentists will work with you and your doctor to provide care that will help you get the rest you need.
Schedule A Consultation
We welcome you to call Chestnut Family Dentistry at 828-255-0936 for more information about sleep apnea treatments in Asheville, North Carolina, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Wendy Willoughby or Dr. Teresa Bare. Your health and wellbeing are our highest priorities, and we are dedicated to working with you to find solutions that meet your needs.