Treatment for sleep apnea can help reduce the condition’s symptoms, which includes fatigue and loud snoring. With treatment, patients can experience improved breathing and a more restful night's sleep. To learn more about obstructive sleep apnea symptoms, contact Bridgewater, VA dentists Joe McIntyre and Dan Whiting to schedule a consultation.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing periodically stops while sleeping. There are different types of sleep apnea, with obstructive sleep apnea being the most common. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues of the throat and mouth, including the tongue, physically block the upper airway while sleeping. As the airway is blocked, the diaphragm and chest muscles will work harder in an attempt to get air into the lungs. This often leads to a loud gasp or snort, or the body may jerk, once breathing resumes.
What Are the Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
There are many possible symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Ignoring the signs of sleep apnea can put you at an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attack, and irregular heart rhythms. Some common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Fatigue or excessive sleepiness during the day
- Waking up with headaches in the morning
- Night sweats
- Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood changes including irritability or depression
- Loud snoring
- Abruptly waking up and gasping for air or choking
- Difficulty waking up in the morning
- Decreased libido
- Restlessness during sleep
- Observed moments when breathing has stopped during sleep
Treatments for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Before obstructive sleep apnea can be treated, it must be diagnosed. An at-home sleep study may be performed and evaluated by a certified sleep physician to determine if obstructive sleep apnea is present. If obstructive sleep apnea is present, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or treatment with an oral appliance may be recommended.
- CPAP therapy: CPAP therapy requires the patient to wear a breathing mask attached to a device that supplies steady flowing air during sleep. The amount of pressure supplied by the device is customized to the individual's needs to ensure the airways are unobstructed during sleep.
- Oral appliance: Those who have mild to moderate sleep apnea may benefit from wearing an oral appliance, or splint, to sleep. Splint therapy helps prevent obstruction of the airways by moving the jaw into the proper position. Many find sleeping with an oral appliance much more comfortable than a CPAP mask.
Which Treatment Is Right for You?
If you suspect you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, it's important to seek a diagnosis. Once you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, a course of treatment may be devised. To find out which treatment is right for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Drs. McIntyre and Whiting.