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What Is Sleep Apnea?

what is sleep apneaMillions of Americans are suffering through restless nights, leading them to spend the next day feeling exhausted, cranky, and forgetful. Although there are many factors that can cause poor sleep, sleep apnea is one that most people do not consider.

Though sleep apnea is a common condition in America, it is not a popular topic of conversation. This leaves many patients wondering, “What is sleep apnea?”

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a sleeper’s breathing stops many times during the night.

Most sufferers are not even aware that they have stopped breathing because they are not fully conscious when it occurs.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea tends to have two main causes: missed signals in the central nervous system and obstruction (closing off) of a sleeper’s airway. It is also not uncommon for a sleeper to have a complex form of sleep apnea, which means they suffer from a combination of these causes.

Here at St. Mary’s Center for Dental Sleep Medicine at St. Mary’s Dental, we focus on treating obstructive sleep apnea at the advice of your physician. This type of sleep apnea is caused when a sleeper’s soft tissues relax and collapse the airway, cutting off proper airflow.

The description of these sleep disorders sounds alarming all by itself, but if you are still wondering, “what is sleep apnea?” consider these common ailments that go hand in hand with sleep disorders of this sort.

Restless Sleep

Your body knows when you are not getting enough oxygen, so it wakes you slightly as you sleep to cause you to breathe properly again. Waking like this throughout the night causes you to feel restless. When you wake up in the morning, you aptly feel as though you did not sleep at all the previous night.

Sleep disorders can also cause morning headaches and muscle stiffness because your body was not able to gain the full benefits of a night’s sleep. These symptoms make it difficult for you to function in the morning.

A lack of rest also causes you to feel sleepy throughout the day, which is particularly dangerous when you are driving or operating heavy machinery. When you feel sleepy, you are not fully focused on the task at hand, leading to a slew of mistakes as you carry out your daily responsibilities.

Oxygen Deprivation

Obstructive sleep apnea keeps you from getting a steady stream of air throughout the night. Because you are unable to get a continuous flow of air, your body suffers from oxygen deprivation. You may notice that you sometimes wake with a choking or gasping sensation, a clear indicator that your body is not getting enough oxygen.

This deprivation contributes to a number of alarming conditions like:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Abnormal heartbeat.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Metabolic syndrome.
  • Liver problems.

Obstructive sleep apnea results in so much more than a poor night’s sleep, and the consequences of untreated sleep apnea are truly dangerous!
do i have sleep apena

Do I Have Sleep Apnea?

There are several different sleep problems that cause restless sleep. Snoring is one of these common sleep problems, and there are other sleep disorders besides sleep apnea that could be leading to troubled sleep.

Only a sleep physician can properly diagnose you with sleep apnea, whether it is obstructive sleep apnea or central sleep apnea. We work closely with a sleep medicine clinic that can provide an accurate diagnosis for your sleep problems. These trusted sleep physicians will also recommend appropriate sleep apnea treatment plans.

If you are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and your sleep physician recommends an oral appliance, then we can make a custom oral appliance to help to treat your obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Although the diagnosis can only come from a qualified sleep physician, you may have noticed certain signs of sleep apnea. These sleep apnea symptoms can indicate whether or not you need to seek medical attention.

Keep in mind that you may not immediately notice some of these signs of sleep apnea, but your partner or other people around you on a daily basis may have noticed that you are exhibiting sleep apnea symptoms. Talking to those around you may provide some insight into whether or not you are showing signs of sleep apnea.

Signs of sleep apnea tend to be very common symptoms of a wide array of sleep problems, which is why an accurate diagnosis is so important. Even so, watching for signs of sleep apnea can help you decide whether or not to seek professional help.

Some of these common sleep apnea symptoms include:

  • Irritability.
  • Insomnia.
  • Mood swings.
  • Loud snoring.
  • Memory problems.
  • Morning headaches.
  • Daytime sleepiness.
  • Waking with a gasping sensation.
  • Waking up with a dry mouth and throat.

If you are suffering from any of these signs of sleep apnea, you can call St. Mary’s Center for Dental Sleep Medicine at St. Mary’s Dental to get started on the road to a proper diagnosis.

Does Sleep Apnea Need to Be Treated?

Because chronic snoring is a key sleep apnea symptom, many patients who come to St. Mary’s Center for Dental Sleep Medicine at St. Mary’s Dental would be happy with simply receiving snoring solutions. Although we are happy to provide sleep solutions that can result in quieter sleep, we are deeply concerned about the dangers associated with sleep apnea.

Common Sleep Apnea Side Effects

Sleep apnea side effects can be disruptive to your daily routine. Irritability and mood swings that result from sleep deprivation can cause social problems. Forgetfulness and other memory problems can lead to minor stresses throughout your day.

Some of these minor consequences of sleep disorders may not feel serious enough to merit treatment, but there are other, potentially fatal consequences that compel many to seek diagnosis and treatment for their sleep disorders.

Dangerous Sleep Apnea Side Effects

Common sleep apnea side effects like daytime sleepiness can be incredibly dangerous for sufferers who get behind the wheel of a car or operate heavy machinery during the day. This can lead to accidents, which may prove fatal.

The other primary danger behind sleep apnea side effects is oxygen deprivation. Low oxygen levels throughout the night can contribute to a number of very serious health conditions. Some of these conditions include:

  • Liver disease.
  • Heart problems.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Metabolic syndrome.

The impact of oxygen deprivation makes sleep disorders of this type more than a minor irritation. Sleep apnea is a vital health concern that needs to be treated in order to protect your overall health.

Call Today to Address Your Sleep Disorders

Whether you are looking for snoring solutions or think you may be noticing sleep apnea side effects, we are ready to provide a referral to a sleep physician who can accurately diagnose your sleep disorders. If you are already being treated for obstructive sleep apnea from a sleep physician, then we would be happy to treat you with an oral appliance. We will need a referral from your sleep physician stating that we can treat your sleep disorder with an oral appliance.

Here at St. Mary’s Center for Dental Sleep Medicine at St. Mary’s Dental, Dr. McCray and Dr. Demer are both qualified members of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. They can help you by providing effective treatment after you receive a diagnosis and referral for an oral appliance from a qualified sleep physician. Call us now for a better night of sleep! Request an Appointment

St. Mary's Dental
28160 Old Village Rd Mechanicsville, MD 20659
| 301-884-3248


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