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The 10 Signs of Sleep Apnea

If you feel as though you’ve lost your zest for life and you’re constantly exhausted, moody, irritable, and can’t think straight, then you may have sleep apnea. Although many people aren’t aware of this sleep disorder, it affects more than 22 million Americans and can affect anyone at any age, even children.

What Types of Sleep Apnea Are Common?

There are only three types of sleep apnea:

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, occurs most frequently and is due to overly relaxed tracheal muscles. This causes a blockage of your airway, so your chest muscles must work more diligently to supply oxygen to the bloodstream.
  2. Central sleep apnea, or CSA, which usually occurs due to an illness such as Parkinson’s disease or some type of damage to the lower part of the brain stem, which is the medulla oblongata and controls the body’s autonomic functions.
  3. Mixed sleep apnea, also called complex sleep apnea, which presents with the symptoms of both OSA and CSA. Researchers don’t completely comprehend the mechanics of complex sleep apnea, but it usually begins as the result of a physical blockage. Once the blockage is removed, the symptoms continue.

What Increases the Likelihood That I’ll Develop Sleep Apnea?

Although you can develop sleep apnea at any age, some physical habits and traits can increase the likelihood of it, such as:

  • Chronic sinusitis, which inhibits the flow of oxygen through the trachea
  • Hypertension
  • Gender, it’s twice as prevalent in males
  • Medical conditions such as asthma, adenoids, and genetically narrow airways
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking, which weakens the muscles in the air passage
  • Women who are postmenopausal

What Are the 10 Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

If you have some or most of the following ten signs, you should contact your dentist for an appointment.

  1. Breathing pauses during the night: You may not be aware that you stop breathing during the night, but your sleep partner can probably confirm it. Intermittent breathing is a classic sign of sleep apnea and one of the most hazardous.
  2. Daytime sleepiness: Although you may think you had enough sleep the previous night, your breathing pauses probably disrupted your sleep.
  3. Disrupted sleep doesn’t allow your body to get the rejuvenating REM sleep that it needs, so you’ll feel exhausted the next day.
  4. Declining libido: A decreased sex drive has been clinically linked to sleep apnea because of changes that it makes in the brain chemistry.
  5. Choking or gasping awake: When your brain realizes that your body needs oxygen, it will awaken you so that the flow of oxygen will resume. You may not know why you woke up or even remember waking up, but your body will suffer from the disruption to your sleep.
  6. Hypertension: The same chemicals that regulate your emotions also regulate your blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and then develop sleep apnea, then you should consult your dentist without delay.
  7. Lack of mental acuity: When your body doesn’t get rejuvenated during the night through the process of REM sleep, you’ll probably be mentally fuzzy during the day and find it difficult to concentrate.
  8. Mood changes: If you’re often moody without an apparent reason, then you may have sleep apnea. Research has linked an increase in moodiness to the changes in the brain chemistry that’s caused by sleep apnea. When you’re constantly exhausted, you’re more inclined to be cranky.
  9. Morning headaches: If you usually wake with a headache and can’t determine the cause, then it may be due to sleep apnea.
    Scratchy throat and dry mouth in the morning: Mouth-breathing during the night is a common occurrence with sleep apnea, and it results in a scratchy throat and a dry mouth in the morning.
  10. Snoring: Snoring can be a symptom of several health problems, and one of the most common is sleep apnea. When air is being forced past a blocked airway, the tissues and muscles in the trachea vibrate back and forth, which causes snoring.

Can Sleep Apnea Adversely Affect My Health?

At its onset, sleep apnea can be a relatively mild condition. However, if it isn’t treated, then it becomes very serious and can cause sudden death.

During the night, dangerously high levels of carbon dioxide can build up in the bloodstream as a result of inadequate oxygen levels. Since sleep apnea deprives the body of quality sleep, sleep deprivation can set in and have disastrous consequences. The side effects of sleep deprivation are very similar to those of alcohol intoxication and can impair the ability to drive or operate machinery. It’s like you’re driving under the influence, but the substance is sleep deprivation rather than alcohol. When it isn’t treated, sleep apnea can exacerbate existing conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, or it can hasten the onset of serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, or sudden death.

Who Treats People With Sleep Apnea?

Your local dentist can treat your sleep apnea, but first, you’ll need to be diagnosed. The diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea is part of the required educational curriculum for dentists, so make an appointment today to get diagnosed. You’ll need a sleep study, which can be performed in your home or in a clinic. Depending on the results of the study, your dentist will recommend a course of treatment.

One of the most common sleep apnea treatments is a continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP machine. This is an air generator that’s attached to a mask and forces air through the mask during the night. The other type of sleep apnea treatment is oral appliance therapy, or OAT therapy. This works similarly to the CPAP machine, except the mask is smaller; it’s more like a sports mouthguard. Your dentist, however, will recommend the best type of treatment for you.

Who Can Help My Sleep Apnea?

If you think you have sleep apnea, then call Towncare Dental at for an appointment. You’ll receive a comprehensive examination and individualized attention. We’ll do our utmost to resolve your sleep apnea issues and restore your good health. Call us today, you’ll be glad you did.

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