Most people with sleep apnea are unaware of their condition because its most obvious symptom, snoring, occurs while asleep. So, unless someone has told you that it sounds like a freight train is rolling through your bedroom at 3am, then chances are you haven’t actually heard yourself snore. Some snorers half-heartedly joke about it, saying it doesn’t bother them (because they are asleep when it happens). Raleigh-Durham airway dentists at About Face Collaborative share insight on why you shouldn’t ignore your sleep apnea even though its effects may not be immediately noticeable.
What is obstructive sleep apnea?
A common sleep-breathing disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea involves an airway restriction that occurs while sleeping. Often, this obstruction results in snoring sounds or gasping for air. Sometimes, the obstructions are caused by enlarged soft tissue in the airways such as the tonsils or adenoids, or a deviated septum. Other causes may be related to the lower jaw sliding back and gaping open during sleep, which causes soft tissue of the throat to collapse. The soft tissues vibrate as you breathe, resulting in the infamous snoring sound. Most sleep apnea sufferers are unaware of their condition because they don’t actually hear themselves snore. If you’re a snorer, here’s why your condition is a big deal.
Dangers of Sleep Apnea
Each time air is restricted, the brain is awakened from the deepest stage of the sleep cycle known as REM sleep. These occurrences are referred to as apneic events, which significantly disrupt sleep, leaving the sufferer feeling fatigued throughout the day, among other symptoms such as mood swings, forgetfulness, and weight gain. Some studies state that untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of a heart attack or death by 30 percent. Researchers of another study found Alzheimer’s biomarkers in patients with untreated sleep apnea, establishing a link between them. A solution for sleep apnea and snoring can be found from About Face Collaborative.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
The first step in treating obstructive sleep apnea is to determine the severity of the sleep-breathing disorder. While a CPAP machine is labeled the gold standard for treating sleep apnea, it isn’t the only option. Some patients simply do not tolerate wearing a CPAP mask. Citing the mask causes skin irritation. The machine is noisy for their sleep partner, and the device is cumbersome to take when traveling. Therefore, some CPAP users discontinue use and give up on treating their sleep apnea. Doing so leaves the sufferer exposed to potential health risks.
At About Face Collaborative, we have options for treating mild cases of sleep apnea. We offer a specially crafted oral appliance that is designed to facilitate an open airway. The oral appliance works by holding the lower jaw into a more desirable position to prevent it from sliding back, causing the throat’s soft tissue to collapse. Patients report that an oral appliance is comfortable and easy to wear. Plus, traveling with your sleep appliance is much more convenient than toting around a machine that requires electricity.
Oral appliance therapy may not be the best treatment in all cases. If you would like to learn more about sleep apnea treatment in Raleigh-Durham or want to find out the best way to quit snoring, contact About Face Collaborate by calling (804) 387-7002 to schedule a consultation. Our airway-focused dentists welcome patients of all ages in the areas of Raleigh, Durham, and Cary.