Sleep Apnea: The Silent Thief
Do you drag through your day? Do you feel listless and sluggish even though you got plenty of sleep the night before? Do you sometimes wake up with a raw throat and an extreme thirst? Has your sleeping partner mentioned that you snore loudly or even make choking sounds during the night? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may suffer from a sleeping disorder called sleep apnea. Apnea refers to a period during sleep where the airway becomes blocked and you stop breathing for a few seconds up to a few minutes. When you stop breathing, your brain awakens, causing multiple sleep disturbances during the night. So even though you may have been in bed for eight hours, you were not getting restful sleep.
Common Causes of Sleep Apnea
The most common type of sleep apnea, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), occurs when the muscles in your throat — which usually hold the airway rigid and allow air to flow freely – relax during sleep to the point that they obstruct the flow of air. When your brain senses that the intake of oxygen has stopped, it forces you to wake up which, in turn, causes the throat muscles to tighten up and the breath to flow. This awakening is generally accompanied by a loud choking sound. Lifestyle factors such as weight and stress levels and other factors such as age and the size of your tongue and tonsils can affect your chances for developing OSA.
Symptoms and Complications of Sleep Apnea
The two primary symptoms of sleep apnea – low blood oxygen, commonly called hypoxemia, and sleep deprivation – can severely impact your health and your quality of life. Sleep deprivation correlates to a huge range of problems including depression, mood swings, irritability, daytime fatigue, and memory loss. Additionally, repeated drops in blood oxygen can damage the part of your brain in charge of memory which further exacerbates memory loss. Evidence reported in the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide suggests a direct link between untreated sleep apnea and an increased susceptibility to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, strokes and heart attacks and a higher likelihood of suffering a fatal heart rhythm during sleep.
Your Dentist: An Unlikely Partner in Treating Sleep Apnea
Problems with sleep apnea were once the exclusive domain of sleep doctors. In recent years, however, dentists like Dr. James R. Stewart, Jr. have specialized in treating sleep apnea disorders. During your consultation with Dr. Stewart, you will discuss effective treatment options including oral appliances and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines. Dr. Stewart’s patients generally experience a better quality of life as their sleep patterns return to normal after receiving treatment.
If you think you may be living with sleep apnea, call Dr. Stewart today at (734) 425-4400. We proudly serve patients from Livonia, Novi, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Dearborn, and the surrounding areas.