Does your partner complain about your snoring? Have you visited the pharmacy for sleep aids, or tried a slew of homemade sleep remedies? Are you still having trouble sleeping peacefully? You may suffer from a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. It may frighten some people to learn that during their sleep, their breathing stops for a few seconds, sometimes minutes. Sleep apnea is usually marked by extremely loud snores, followed by a pause in breathing, and then a louder snort or choking sound as breathing starts again. Dr. Stephen Burds explains the causes and conditions surrounding sleep apnea, and what you can do to treat it.
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
When you sleep, every muscle in your body relaxes. Unfortunately for some, that includes the oral and throat muscles. During sleep, these muscles can shift and block (or obstruct), regular airflow. The abnormally loud snoring is caused by air trying to squeeze through the blocked or collapsed airway. At times, the blockage is too great, and the air ceases to travel through. This causes a pause in breathing, and the sudden awakening when you finally take a breath. These pauses can occur up to 30 times in one hour, eliminating the chances of restful sleep. Untreated sleep apnea can contribute to daytime drowsiness, decreased work productivity, high blood pressure, irritability, and memory loss.
How Do I Treat Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is difficult to diagnose during an office visit. There is no blood test to determine affliction, and people are normally awake during checkup exams. Diagnosis of sleep apnea may include a sleep study. Treatment for sleep apnea depends on your specific needs. A continuous positive airway pressure machine (or CPAP), is usually recommended, but some patients do not tolerate the machine well in their sleep, or prefer a less bulky option. Dr. Burds can suggest nighttime mouth guard that holds soft tissue in place to prevent it from collapsing and blocking your airway at night.
If you believe you may have sleep apnea, do not hesitate to make an appointment for evaluation. Sleep deprivation can lead to many serious health issues. If you live in the Des Moines area, call Gateway Dental Group at (515) 244-9596 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Burds. We welcome patients from Des Moines, River Bend, Kirkwood Glen, East Village, and neighboring communities.