Sleep apnea plagues millions of people, and many don’t even know they have it. If you are waking up tired after a full night of sleep or if your partner is complaining about excessive snoring, you may have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Understanding Sleep Apnea
People who suffer from sleep apnea will actually stop breathing while they sleep. This can happen hundreds of times in just one hour and can last for one minute or longer. This happens when the tongue muscles and palate fall back into the airway and block it. When the airway is partially blocked the muscles will vibrate, which causes snoring. Sleep apnea occurs when the airway is completely blocked temporarily. You will stop breathing until your brain kicks in and arouses you to start breathing again. As a result, people with sleep apnea are constantly being pulled out of deep sleep multiple times throughout the night, even if they don’t realize it.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Over time sleep apnea will take a toll on your body, causing fatigue and irritability. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, severe daytime drowsiness, poor memory, clouded intellect, personality changes, decreased sex drive, impotence, and headaches. Sleep apnea may also contribute to stroke, hypertension, heart attacks, and heart disease.
Sleep apnea may severely affect the patient’s spouse or significant other as well. Excessive snoring can keep your partner awake at night, causing him or her to be tired and irritable the next day.
Sleep Apnea Treatments
There are many different sleep apnea treatments. The most effective treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. A CPAP machine hooks up to a mask and headgear that is worn while you’re sleeping. The machine blows pressurized room air into the airway in order to keep it open. While this treatment is highly effective, many people find it uncomfortable to sleep in or they find it difficult to sleep with the noise of the machine.
If a CPAP machine is not an option, another possibility is oral appliance therapy. This is a small plastic piece that fits over the teeth, much like an orthodontic retainer or mouth guard. Patients wear the oral appliance while they sleep to prevent the throat from collapsing and obstructing the airway. This quick and easy procedure can improve symptoms of sleep apnea and reduce or eliminate snoring as well. Receiving proper treatment for sleep apnea can dramatically improve your sleep and quality of life.