Sleep apnea is a serious condition which can cause headaches, pain, chronic disease, involuntary sleep, and other problems. Each “apnea” is a period of time in which a person stops breathing, often for 10–30 seconds, until the body suddenly takes a gasping breath.
If you have it, sleep apnea can cause you to stop breathing hundreds of times each night. And each apnea (the periods you stop breathing and then restart) can sound like gasping or loud snoring to others in your household—even though by morning you probably won’t remember that you stopped breathing at all.
Problems and Dangers of Sleep Apnea
We all need oxygen in order to live. A human can live for several weeks with no food, and days with no water, but we can only live minutes without air. That’s what makes sleep apnea so dangerous; It deprives you of oxygen hundreds of times every night in your sleep. And this can cause or be linked to:
- Involuntary Sleep: Because sleep apnea never allows you to fully rest, you could fall asleep while driving on a freeway at 70 miles per hour or while operating heavy machinery at work. This could cause serious injury or death.
- Headaches and Fatigue: You may frequently wake with headaches and fatigue if you suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can also cause trembling muscles and other fatigue symptoms.
- Heart Conditions: The heart struggles when you are forced to hold your breath repeatedly. This causes stress to both blood vessels and heart tissues, which can cause heart attacks, high blood pressure, unusual heartbeats, and other complications.
- Liver Conditions: Some studies have linked sleep apnea with liver problems and liver scarring. This scar tissue will keep your liver from healing the way it should and operating at its full capacity.
- Type 2 Diabetes: It’s possible that lack of sleep causes hormonal imbalances, which disrupts the signal that tells a person they are full. And that can lead to diabetes, which can be a long-lasting health struggle.
- Weight Gain: Hormone problems and fatigue caused by lack of sleep can lead to increased weight, which often causes more snoring. On the bright side, losing weight if you are overweight can decrease your odds of contracting sleep apnea in the first place.
- Metabolic Syndrome: This condition is a combination of issues, including cholesterol imbalances, abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. It can lead to stroke and/or heart attack.
- Dangerous Reactions to Drugs: You may suffer dangerous side effects in reaction to medications, anesthesia, and surgery because of your unpredictable breathing. This makes medical treatment more difficult.
- Mood Issues: You could have unpredictable mood changes, depression, and irritability that stem from a lack of sleep. Getting a full night’s rest can make an incredible difference to your mental state.
- Mental Performance Challenges: Your ability to remember, concentrate, be creative, and make decisions may all suffer if you’re not sleeping well. Maximize your mental potential with effective sleep habits!
- Abnormal Snoring: Your sleep apnea may sound like very loud snoring, which can disrupt the sleep of your spouse and/or other household members. In this way, sleep apnea can ruin more than one person’s night!
You may suffer from one or more of these problems if your sleep apnea goes undiagnosed. It’s important to be checked for sleep apnea by a professional to verify whether or not you have it. Sufferers are generally not able to remember their own apneas, so an outside observer is needed.Click here for your Sleep Apnea Consultation
How to Be Checked for Sleep Apnea
Patients over the age of 40 are more at risk than other age groups, but it’s also possible for anyone to develop sleep apnea. A young person can have it because of genetics or even nasal congestion, and they’re more at risk if their family has a history of sleep apnea.
This condition can also stem from obesity, smoking, or the use of sedatives, alcohol, or narcotics. Finally, those who have had heart disorders or stroke are at higher risk.
To get a diagnosis, you have two basic options:
- Get a Home Sleep Study: A medical sleep professional can equip you with a home monitoring system that records your nighttime breathing patterns, oxygen levels, and heart rate. They can then examine the data for markers of sleep apnea.
- Participate in a Sleep Study at a Sleep Disorder Center: At a comfortable facility, you can sleep while devices gather even more data on body movements, brain activity, breathing rates, oxygen levels, and more. Specialists there can give you personalized feedback.
Sleep apnea is sometimes a complex condition called central sleep apnea, which is caused by an interruption of the brain’s signal to breathe. But it is often a simpler condition called obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a blockage of the windpipe—and that is treatable by dental devices.
Call Dr. Hollinger for Help With Sleep Apnea
If it’s possible that you have sleep apnea, call (860) 430-5687, Central Connecticut Orofacial Pain & Sleep Medicine today. The fatigue associated with sleep apnea can cause people to fall asleep at the wheel or develop chronic health problems. We want to help keep you safe and relieve the aches and pains of sleep apnea.
Keep in mind that your insurance—or Medicare—can help you pay for corrective sleep devices and for sleep studies. Call Dr. Hollinger today for an appointment with a caring, compassionate dental professional.
Call (860) 430-5687 Now! Our Friendly Smile Team is Ready to Schedule Your Sleep Apnea Consultation!