The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Oct 01, 2019

What is Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder where breathing is constantly disrupted during a person’s sleep. It occurs when the upper airway muscles relax and pinch off the airways. This prevents adequate circulation of air in the body and often lasts for 10 seconds or more, until reflexes kick in and breathing starts again. The condition although common, is rarely diagnosed since it happens when one is asleep and easily goes unnoticed.

The main types of sleep apnea include:

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): It is the most common form of sleep apnea and is caused by a blockage in the airways that causes you to snore loudly. The blockage usually happens during sleep, when the soft tissue at the back of the throat flops.

Central sleep apnea: This occurs when the brain fails to prompt the muscles to breathe, due to a problem with the central nervous system. People with this type of apnea rarely snore.

Signs and Symptoms

When it comes to identifying the signs of sleep apnea, a lot of confusion lies around snoring, and if it is cause for concern. Our dentist office In Burlington, ON, is happy to clarify to you that not every snore indicates apnea. The biggest indicators lie on how you behave while asleep and how you feel during the day. So, besides the loud snoring, other signs to look out for include:

  • Pauses in breathing
  • Gasping, snorting and choking in your sleep
  • Getting up in the middle of sleep with a short of breath.
  • Sleepiness and fatigue despite of how much time you spend asleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Poor concentration and trouble remembering things
  • Insomnia or frequent awakenings
  • Unexplained moodiness and irritability
  • Waking up with a sore or dry throat
  • Reduced interest in sex

We offer sleep Apnea treatment in Burlington, ON so that you can relieve these symptoms and avoid any additional side effects from the condition.

What are Its Effects?

When suffering from sleep apnea, your sleep is constantly interrupted to prompt you to resume breathing. So, besides not getting quality sleep and feeling tired all day, there are other more serious and long-term effects the condition. When untreated, the effects of sleep apnea include:

  • High blood pressure

    Every time your breathing temporarily stops, there is a shortage of oxygen supply in the body. This prompts the brain to increase blood flow since the brain is the carrier of oxygen to the cells in the body. This increases oxygen supply in blood vessels and also increases high blood pressure. If the pattern persists you are at high risk of developing chronic blood pressure which makes breathing even worse for already obstructed airways.

  • Heart problems

    The heart is responsible for pumping blood all throughout the body. An increase in blood pressure means that your heart is working overtime. So you are further exposed to conditions such as stroke, heart failure and irregular heart rhythm.

  • Respiratory issues

    With your airways obstructed, your breathing is compromised. And if you already have respiratory problems like asthma, then your risk of asthma complications is further heightened.

  • Low blood oxygen levels

    When you abruptly stop breathing, the brain will prioritize supply of oxygen-rich blood to essential body organs. This results to low oxygen supply in other organs, hindering their proper functioning.

    Other effects of apnea include weight gain, reduced sex drive, liver problems and high chance of fatigue-related accidents.

Diagnosis and Treatment

As mentioned earlier, it can be difficult for you to tell if you have sleep apnea, since the noticeable symptoms occur when you are asleep and unaware. It is often advised that you have a partner take note of your sleeping behavior, to help identify the symptoms. You may also be referred to a sleep disorder center to allow for a better evaluation. Tests are done to monitor your heart, lung and brain activity, blood oxygen levels, heart rate and breathing patterns as you sleep.

You can get Sleep apnea treatment, at our dental clinic in Burlington, ON, for both mild and extreme cases. For mild cases we recommend an adjustment to lifestyle habits like quitting smoking and exercising more. In severe cases, therapy is recommended. Therapy involves using a medical machine to keep the airways open, throughout your sleep. The machines include the positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and the bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP). When none of the above treatments works, then surgery has to be done to help correct the airway structure. This may involve creating a new airway, placing implants, repositioning the jaw, shrinking or removing the obstructing tissue or nerve stimulation. The action performed in each surgery will depend on individual cases and the underlying trigger for sleep apnea.

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