Sleep Apnea Awareness
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that is increasingly common in adults in the United States, often leading to various health complications when left untreated. Sleep Apnea occurs when the airway in the back of the throat is temporarily blocked as the muscles relax and the airway temporarily collapses, inhibiting breathing. Oxygen to the brain drops, and you wake up gasping for air. This cycle of breathing, obstructed breathing, and startling continues throughout the night, leading to interrupted sleep.
Startling Sleep Apnea Statistics and Facts
- 1 in every 15 U.S. adults may have sleep apnea.
- Up to 4% of Americans have undiagnosed sleep apnea.
- Individuals with undiagnosed sleep apnea are six times more likely to die in a car accident due to daytime sleepiness.
- Individuals with undiagnosed sleep apnea are four times as likely to suffer a stroke.
- Sleep apnea increases your risk of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
- Individuals with untreated obstructive sleep apnea are at higher risk of heart attack.
- Untreated sleep apnea can take anywhere from 12-15 years off your life.
The repeated cycle of decreased oxygen to the brain and lack of deep, restful sleep can lead to poor cardiovascular health, chronic daytime sleepiness, brain fog, and depression. Although there is no cure for sleep apnea, it can be effectively treated to minimize its impact.
How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
Many people don’t realize they have OSA until their partner points out that they snore at a volume that disturbs others’ sleep or that they periodically stop and start their breathing throughout the night. However, many symptoms could indicate you have obstructive sleep apnea, including:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Excessively loud snoring that keeps others awake
- Gasping for air during the night
- Memory loss
- Waking up abruptly during the night for no reason
- Feeling like you’re suffocating or choking when asleep.
- Periodic breaks in breathing while sleeping.
- Difficulty concentrating during the day (brain fog)
- Chronic morning sore throat or dry mouth
- Recurring heartburn
- High blood pressure or heart disease
- Morning headaches with no other cause
- Irritability or mood swings
- Feeling like you never get enough sleep.
- Low libido or sexual dysfunction
- Weight gain due to slowed metabolism
If you have any of the symptoms above and suspect sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about arranging for a sleep study. Left untreated, OSA can lead to heart disease, heart arrhythmia, sudden heart attack or stroke, and cognitive impairment that can lead to accidents or death. Quality of life for individuals with sleep apnea is significantly reduced, and this only increases over time.
How Red Oak Dentistry Can Help
Until recently, the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine was the only effective therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This device features a mask worn over the nose and mouth, providing air pressure to keep the airway open. While effective, it is uncomfortable, and some patients can’t tolerate wearing it throughout the night.
At Red Oak Dentistry, Dr. Michael King can design and create oral appliances worn at night to keep your airways open. Each oral appliance is custom-crafted to reposition the jaw or hold the tongue in place, depending on what causes your OSA. For patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea, an oral appliance is a comfortable, affordable alternative to the cumbersome CPAP machine that can improve their lives and health.
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