What is Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What is Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment

November 1, 2022

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common condition that can affect anyone, irrespective of age. Patients suffering from sleep apnea have difficulty breathing during sleep, leading to low-quality sleep. In addition, the condition can affect your performance at work or school as you end up feeling sleepy throughout the day.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are 2 common types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

It is the most common type of sleep apnea. The condition occurs due to the relaxation of throat muscles which causes breathing to stop or decrease temporarily during sleep. Patients suffering from this condition may also experience morning headaches and feel sleepy during the day due to insufficient sleep. Factors that can increase the risk of getting obstructive sleep apnea include:

Excess Weight: People who are obese are at more risk of getting obstructive sleep apnea than those who are at a healthy weight. That is because obesity can cause fat deposits to form around the upper airway making it harder to breathe.

Age and Gender: Research shows that people older than 60 are more affected by sleep apnea than younger people. Men are also more affected than women. However, women who have undergone menopause or are overweight can also be affected.

Lifestyle Choices: Regular alcohol consumption and smoking can increase your risk of obstructive sleep apnea. Alcohol relaxes throat muscles worsening the effects of obstructive sleep apnea, while smoking increases fluid retention and inflammation in the upper airway making the condition more severe.

Prevailing Health Issues: People with high blood pressure, heart disease, Parkinson’s, or type 2 diabetes can easily get obstructive sleep apnea. Chronic lung disorders like asthma and hormonal problems can also put you at risk of getting sleep apnea.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea. The condition is caused by the brain failing to send signals to respiratory muscles resulting in shortness of breath during sleep. Like obstructive sleep apnea, this disease can affect everyone, including children. You are also more likely to get it if you are obese, old, male, or smoke and take alcohol regularly. Ensure you get tested for sleep apnea if most of your family members suffer from sleep apnea since that also increases your chances of getting central sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Knowing the early signs of sleep apnea is essential as it can help you seek sleep apnea treatment early. Below are common symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea:

  • Shortness of breath during sleep
  • Lack of sleep (insomnia)
  • Daytime sleepy (hypersomnia)
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches and irritability

Diagnosis and Treatment for Sleep Apnea

We recommend going for sleep apnea treatment soon as you start experiencing any of the above symptoms. The condition has been linked to other complications such as high blood pressure, fatigue, type 2 diabetes, and liver problems.

During diagnosis, your sleep apnea dentist near you may recommend staying overnight so they can monitor you during sleep. They will use nocturnal polysomnography to monitor your heart, lungs, brain activity, and body movements to detect sleep apnea. If you can’t stay overnight, our dentist in Houston, TX, will recommend portable at-home sleep tests. However, we highly recommend you opt for nocturnal polysomnography as it is more accurate.

Treatment for sleep apnea will depend on the severity of your condition. That being said, if you suffer from mild sleep apnea, your dentist may recommend a lifestyle change like losing weight and quitting smoking. However, if the measures don’t work, or you are diagnosed with a severe case of sleep apnea, you will have to get other treatment options.

Dentists often recommend sleep apnea therapy as it has a higher success rate than other methods. The treatment uses pressure devices, oral appliances, oxygen supplements, adaptive servo-ventilation (SAV), and others to increase airflow. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is often used since it is more effective. The treatment option involves wearing a mask before sleeping to keep your upper airway passages open and prevent apnea and snoring.

Visit a Sleep Apnea Dentist Near You

Sleep apnea is a common condition that can be treated through lifestyle changes and therapy. However, delayed treatment can cause the problem to become severe and result in other complications. So if you start experiencing sleep apnea symptoms, call us or set an appointment with American Modern Dental as soon as possible for sleep apnea treatment in Houston, TX. We have years of experience treating mild and severe cases of sleep apnea.