Obstructive sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that can cause breathing to stop and start while you’re sleeping. This happens because the throat muscles relax and block your airway. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to death.
What are signs of sleep apnea that I should look for?
The most common sign of sleep apnea is snoring. Other symptoms include excessive daytime fatigue, startled awakenings, gasping or choking, having a dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up, waking up with a headache, having difficulty concentrating during the day, night sweats, and high blood pressure. Sleep apnea can really distract your daytime functioning, which is why it’s important to know your risk factors.
Am I at risk for sleep apnea?
There are many risk factors for sleep apnea, but a few that stick out as red flags. They are:
- Being overweight. Having excess fat can significantly increase your risk of developing sleep apnea. When a person is overweight, fat deposits around the upper airway can obstruct normal breathing.
- Having high blood pressure. Consistently high blood pressure is commonly seen in people with sleep apnea.
- Being a smoker. While evidence is limited, smoking may cause disturbances in your sleep pattern and disturb your upper airway function. It can also cause inflammation in the upper airway.
- Having diabetes. Sleep apnea and diabetes may go hand in hand. About one in every two adults with Type 2 diabetes may be at a high risk of developing sleep apnea. Some of the consequences of untreated sleep apnea in people with diabetes include higher blood sugars, chronic fatigue, and high blood pressure.
- Having asthma. Research suggests that having sleep apnea may aggravate symptoms of asthma and vice versa.
Other factors that can up your chances of having sleep apnea include being male, having a family history of the disorder, and having chronic nasal congestion. Anyone of these risk factors, or a combination of multiple factors, places you at a higher risk for developing the condition.
Sleep apnea can cause serious damage to your body and has even resulted in death. It’s a serious disorder that requires treatment. If you have any of the risk factors above, or you snore loudly, get fatigued during the day, or wake up with a headache more often than not, it’s time to seek help.
I think I may have sleep apnea — what now?
Call us! At Doueck Dental & Sleep Medicine, our dentists are specially trained in dental sleep medicine. The first step in receiving a diagnosis is often a sleep study. Our office can arrange for you to have an in-home sleep study versus having to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings such as a lab or hospital.
If you do indeed have sleep apnea, our staff works with your sleep doctor. And if you’re a good candidate for an oral appliance, we can get you sleeping more soundly with a simple custom-made mouthguard or possibly a customized CPAP mask that’s secured to an oral appliance.
The first step is to contact our office by calling or clicking the button here on the website. Our staff wants to help you get your best night’s rest.