Questions About Sleep Apnea

questions about sleep apneaErie, Harborcreek and Millcreek, PA

What is sleep apnea?

One of the most serious sleep breathing disorders, sleep apnea occurs when your airway becomes blocked during sleep, usually due to the collapse of soft tissue. Every time one of these blockages occurs, your sleep cycle is disrupted. A patient with a severe case of sleep apnea might experience these blockages hundreds of times per night.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is not a problem that will just “run its course” or go away by itself. If you have been diagnosed with this disorder or suffer from these symptoms, seek diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.

Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Loud snoring (this is the biggest warning sign of a sleep breathing disorder)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Struggle to perform at work or in school
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Impotence or general loss of libido
  • Weight gain

What are the risks of sleep apnea?

If you have sleep apnea and it goes untreated, you face a high risk of certain chronic and even life-threatening health issues, such as:

  • High blood pressure and stroke
  • Cardiac disease
  • Cognitive decline
  • Depression

What causes sleep apnea?

The cause of sleep apnea is usually due to an obstruction of the airway. It could be the collapse of soft tissue in your throat. It could be the result of a narrow airway, because of the shape of your head and neck, or chronic mouth breathing. Having a large tongue or adenoids also could lead to airway problems.

Who is at risk for sleep apnea?

Men have a higher risk of sleep apnea than women, and individuals who are obese or who already suffer from high blood pressure also have a greater chance of sleep apnea. Certain studies also have found a possible hereditary link in sleep apnea patients.

Why should you see a sleep apnea dentist?

A sleep apnea dentist has additional training and certification to diagnose and treat any sleep breathing disorder, such as sleep apnea. A sleep apnea dentist can conduct a sleep study or an airway evaluation to determine if a patient does suffer from a sleep breathing disorder.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Rather than use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, a sleep apnea patient can receive treatment through the prescription of an oral appliance. The oral appliances we provide are a cut above the anti-snoring mouthpieces you might find available for purchase over the counter. Each appliance is custom made for the best-fit and highest level of effectiveness. These oral appliances place the lower jaw in its preferred forward resting position, keeping your airway open while you sleep. In general, sleep apnea patients who receive oral appliance therapy report it is less expensive, less invasive, and more convenient than CPAP.

Have any other questions about sleep apnea? Contact our office by calling (814) 825-2615. Laser Dentistry of Erie serves Erie, PA, and the surrounding areas.