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Why Is Sleep Apnea Life-Threatening?

Why Is Sleep Apnea Life-Threatening?

Sleep- I need it, you need it, we all need it. Sleep does wonders for you. It provides the most natural way of refreshing the body’s energy levels and clearing the mind in the process. However, for about 18 million American people who suffer from the symptoms of sleep apnea, a complete and undistracted sleep can potentially save them from the negative impacts of having the disease.

In March 2009 issue of AGD impact, an article that explains the how obstructive sleep apnea affects the body, the disease is characterized by a series of events wherein a person stops breathing for about 10 seconds or even longer during his sleep. This information alone makes sleep apnea a life-threatening disorder.

So, how will you tell if a person suffers from sleep apnea? Among the many indicators, snoring is a major symptom. However, unlike snoring that is obvious, others might go undetected. Prior to an exam, a dentist can suspect the not so obvious symptoms of sleep apnea through a series of candid questions about a person’s discomforts and pains. If a patient complains about dry mouth, which is often caused by opening the mouth just to breathe during sleep, headaches, and lethargy, the dentist will suspect that the person is suffering from the disorder.

How to tell you have sleep apnea?

Bruxism, commonly known as tooth grinding, is the first symptom of sleep apnea. Worn out tooth surfaces is a sign that a person grinds his teeth. Receded and inflamed gums, as well as tooth breakage are also caused by tooth grinding. Having a small jaw, a tongue with unnoticeable scalloped edges, or even the redness in a person’s throat due to snoring are also indistinguishable signs of sleep apnea.

When a person can’t breathe, he unconsciously gasps for air that makes him wake up. When his sleep becomes disrupted, it causes fatigue and his sleep quality and comfort are compromised. Furthermore, the disorder is directly linked to risk of having high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and  even heart disease.

How to treat sleep apnea?

In order to determine the severity of a patient’s symptoms, a sleep study must first be conducted. The result of the sleep study will be used to determine the prescribed treatment option for it has a direct influence on how the treatment will react to a patient’s symptoms.  

Among the many types of therapy used to treat sleep apnea is called CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. The apparatus blows a steady stream of pressurized air through a mask used by the patients straight into the respiratory system. Patients that have moderate to severe sleep apnea are recommended with the use of CPAP by sleep professionals as a first line of treatment. However, for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea, recommended therapy is the usage of dental devices.

In order to obtain a dental device, you will have to consult your doctor to make  a custom fitted one to suit your personal needs. Options that are readily-available like over-the-counter devices are not recommended. Such devices maybe practically appealing because of lowered prices, but this may contribute into complicating your sleep apnea.

If you’re ever concerned whether you have sleep apnea, give your Village Dental clinic to schedule a sleep consultation.