Are you tired all the time? Lack the energy or drive to complete your daily tasks? Do you snore regularly and loudly? If so, you might be suffering from sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing stops (and then starts again) during sleep. This can happen hundreds of times each night, and the consequences of this disorder can be severe. In addition to being disruptive to an individual’s daily routine and quality of life, it can increase the risk for more serious conditions such as heart disease.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. The “apnea” in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds. A person with untreated sleep apnea stops breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain and body may not get enough oxygen.
How Common is Sleep Apnea?
The National Sleep Foundation estimates that sleep apnea affects 22 million Americans, and the prevalence of the condition has increased in the last few decades. 80% of people who suffer from sleep apnea don’t know they have it.
Who Is Most Susceptible to Sleep Apnea?
Some groups are especially prone to suffering from sleep apnea:
- Men are twice as likely to suffer from sleep apnea as women.
- The prevalence of sleep apnea increases with age but can occur in children.
- People who are overweight or obese are three times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than those with a normal body mass index (BMI).
- People with a large neck circumference (17 inches or greater for men; 16 inches or greater for women) are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea.
- A family history of sleep apnea puts you at a higher risk of developing the condition.
- Kids and Adult with tight and tethered tongues
- Underdeveloped jaw size, small mouths and retruded lower jaws
- Mouth breathers
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Because it occurs while sleeping, people who have sleep apnea often don’t know they have it. A family member or bed partner may first notice the signs of sleep apnea. Common symptoms include snoring, gasping for air during sleep, and excessive daytime fatigue.
Most people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) snore loudly and heavily, but not everyone who snores has OSA. Many people with OSA don’t snore. Other symptoms may include morning headaches, memory or learning problems, mood changes, insomnia, poor concentration, and waking with a sore or dry throat.
What Are the Dangers of Sleep Apnea?
People with untreated sleep apnea experience pauses in their breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. Because of this, the brain and body may not get enough oxygen.
Studies have demonstrated a correlation between OSA and cardiovascular disease. Sleep apnea is associated with resistance to insulin, hypertension, left ventricular hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart muscle), arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), stroke, and coronary artery disease.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
The best treatment for you depends on your type of sleep apnea and your overall health. Options include:
Oral Appliances. Oral appliances are custom-made devices that position your lower jaw and tongue to keep your airway open while you sleep.
Anterior Modeling Appliance (ARA). An ARA can be used to permanently expand your jaw or correct other orthodontic issues that may impede your ability to breathe normally. By balancing the bones in your face and teeth, you may improve your ability to breathe during sleep.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). With CPAP therapy, you wear a mask over your nose during sleep. The mask connects to a machine that provides a continuous flow of air through your nose to help keep your upper airway passages open.
Surgery. Surgery may be performed on the upper airway, especially the tonsils and adenoids, to remove tissue that could be blocking your breathing during sleep.
If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, it’s important to get treatment. We can help you choose the best treatment option for your needs. If you’d like to schedule an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Coats, contact us today at 817-481-6888.