How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
posted: Sep. 09, 2021.
WE EXPLORE WHAT SLEEP APNEA IS AND HOW TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE IT
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in the United States, affecting approximately 20 million adults. Of those 20 million suffering from sleep apnea, an estimated 80 percent of those cases go undiagnosed. Many people may be unaware that their health problems are a result of sleep apnea. Others may be aware of their sleep disorder, but unaware of the severe consequences of untreated sleep apnea. In this blog, we will explore the signs of sleep apnea and how your dentist may be able to help.
WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA?
Those who suffer from sleep apnea typically experience frequent breaks or pauses in breathing while sleeping. Three forms of sleep apnea exist:
– Central Sleep Apnea: breathing pauses result from the brain failing to signal the respiratory system to breath
– Obstructive Sleep Apnea: a physical blockage in the upper airway interrupts breathing. When soft tissues of the throat and lung collapse into the airway, it causes the obstruction.
– Complex/Mix Sleep Apnea: a combination of Central Sleep Apnea and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON TYPE OF SLEEP APNEA?
The most common type of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This type of sleep apnea accounts for approximately 85 percent of cases. In contrast, Central Sleep Apnea accounts for less than one percent of all cases.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE SLEEP APNEA?
There are several signs to watch out for that could be indicative of an Obstructive Sleep Apnea disorder. Read on to learn about the symptoms of sleep apnea. If you’re experiencing any of the below symptoms, call your primary care physician. In the end, we will discuss how your dentist may be able to treat you for sleep apnea.
DO FAMILY MEMBERS OR LOVED ONES TELL YOU THAT YOU SNORE?
One of the most frequent symptoms that sleep apnea patients cite is loud and chronic snoring. Vibrations produce the sound of snoring in the upper respiratory airways during sleep. Partial obstructions cause snoring and constrains air from moving smoothly through the airways. Many people who snore may not even be aware that they do. Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, but it isn’t necessarily indicative of the disorder. If snoring is loud, disturbing, and occurs nightly, it may be a sign of sleep apnea.
DO YOU EXPERIENCE FREQUENT BREAKS OR PAUSES IN SLEEPING
When fatty tissues of the throat or tongue relax during sleep, they fall back into your airways and restrict airflow. The restriction of airflow causes you to stop breathing for a few seconds. During a sleep apnea event, the oxygen levels in your blood will drop. When oxygen levels drop, your brain wakes itself from sleep long enough to get your respiratory system to work again. Sleep apnea events can occur between five and 30 times in an hour, lasting between ten and 20 seconds. Those with sleep apnea likely don’t realize that they frequently wake during sleep. However, constant sleep interruptions can harm the amount of quality sleep they get.
ARE YOU TIRED ALL OF THE TIME?
Pauses during sleep can add up to a lot of lost time in the quality and quantity of nightly sleep. One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is excessive daytime sleepiness. Excessive daytime sleepiness is a persistent feeling of tremendous daytime fatigue. Common symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness include:
– Difficulty waking up in the morning
– A sense of tiredness that lasts through the day
– General lack of energy
– Requiring frequent naps that only partially relieve symptoms
– Nodding off at unfortunate times
– Difficulty concentrating
Excessive daytime sleepiness can also lead to severe accidents or even death.
DO YOU OFTEN AWAKE WITH HEADACHES?
Those who suffer from sleep apnea often report waking up with headaches. When you frequently stop breathing, less oxygen makes its way to your brain. Low levels of oxygen can initiate the widening of blood vessels, which leads to vascular headaches. Headaches are one of the most common causes of sleep apnea.
DO YOU HAVE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
Another common symptom of sleep apnea is high blood pressure. Frequent pauses during sleep can cause high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. When your brain realizes it’s not receiving adequate oxygen in the blood, it can cause a spike in blood pressure. As oxygen levels in your blood are restricted each night, your body gets used to having to restrict its blood vessels. High blood pressure begins to persist throughout the day when you’re breathing normally.
ARE YOU OVERWEIGHT?
A person’s body weight is also directly linked to Obstructive Sleep Apnea. If you’re overweight or obese, you are more likely to experience sleep apnea. Those with neck circumferences more significant than 17 inches (for men) and 16 inches (for women) have a higher risk of sleep apnea.
DO YOU EXPERIENCE MOOD SWINGS?
If you’re irritable, depressed, or having mood swings throughout the day, it could be a sign of sleep apnea. A lack of quality sleep can affect one’s mood. If you’re losing sleep almost every night, it can make you irritable, prone to anxiety, and even depressed.
CAN MY DENTIST HELP TREAT MY SLEEP APNEA?
There are several treatments for sleep apnea. One treatment for sleep apnea is an oral appliance called Jaw Advancing Device or Mandibular Advancement Device. This sleep apnea oral appliance is custom-made by dentists using a mold to form the shape of the patient’s mouth. Oral tools provided by dentists can work against sleep apnea and also effectively stop snoring. The sleep apnea appliances work by moving the jaw forward. When the jaw moves forward, it increases the size of the upper airway. An increase in upper airway size reduces the air resistance that leads to sleep apnea and snoring. Oral appliances for sleep apnea are often used in conjunction with weight loss if the patient is overweight. Sleep apnea mouthguards can also be anti-snoring devices as they reduce airway turbulence and stop snoring.
If you’re interested in learning how oral devices can help your sleep apnea, call Tarzana dentist Dr. Kaveh Kanani. Dr. Kanani is currently offering free consultations for new patients in his eco-friendly Tarzana dental office.