So you snore. Big deal, right? Well, if you have sleep apnea, it is a big deal. Sleep apnea not only hurts your quality of life, it can kill you. In fact, when the coroner’s report came out on the recent death of actress Carrie Fisher, sleep apnea was listed as a contributing cause.
If you snore, suffer disrupted sleep but aren’t sure why, or have other reason to believe you may have sleep apnea, call Texas Grins of Willow Park at (817) 779-7111 to learn about our sleep apnea solutions.
Sleep Apnea 101
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person actually stops breathing while asleep. There are two types, but the most common by far is obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a physical obstruction of the airway. This usually happens when the soft tissue of the back of the throat collapses, resulting in a blockage. These episodes can happen dozens of time each hour and hundreds of times each night! While it’s estimated that as many as 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, an astounding 80% of these cases are undiagnosed.
Aside from the obvious dangers of not breathing, untreated sleep apnea has many potentially serious consequences.
- People with sleep apnea face an increased risk of being in car and heavy-machinery accidents, due to drowsiness. They are six times more likely than other people to die in a traffic accident.
- It’s very difficult to concentrate when fatigued — which can affect performance at work or school.
- Sleep apnea can worsen high blood pressure, due to effects of stress on your hormone levels.
- People with sleep apnea are more likely to have heart disease and heart attacks. They are also at a higher risk for strokes. The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimates that 38,000 deaths annually can be attributed to sleep-apnea-related cardiovascular problems
- Overweight people are not only at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea, but the very fact they have it may make it more difficult to lose weight. Inadequate or low-quality sleep affects the metabolism, and increases the temptation to make poor food choices.
- Sleep apnea and lack of sleep can make you moody and depressed.
- People with sleep apnea are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.
- If you snore, you are disrupting your partner’s sleep as well. This makes him or her vulnerable to many of these same issues.
Who Gets Sleep Apnea?
The truth is that anyone can get sleep apnea, even children. That said, a number of factors can increase the risk.
- Obese people are four times more likely to have sleep apnea than normal-weight people.
- People with thick necks often have narrower airways, which means a greater likelihood of getting sleep apnea.
- Sleep apnea is two times more common in men than in women.
- Smokers and drinkers are more likely to have sleep apnea. Drinking (plus the use of sedatives or tranquilizers) relaxes the throat muscles. Smoking may cause inflammation in the upper airway.
- Sleep apnea risk increases with age.
Do I Have Sleep Apnea?
The only way to definitively diagnose sleep apnea is with a sleep study conducted by a doctor. If you have the following symptoms, it’s advisable to make that appointment immediately.
- Loud snoring
- Frequent, sudden awakenings
- Sore throat or dry mouth in the mornings
- Chronic daytime fatigue and sleepiness
- Inability to focus
- Mood swings
- Episodes of not breathing at night (noticed by a partner)
Who Can Treat My Sleep Apnea?
Dr. Crain at Texas Grins can get you sleeping soundly through the night with a custom-made oral appliance to treat your sleep apnea. Why not a CPAP? While they have helped many people, CPAP machines can be cumbersome, difficult to get used to, and require electricity.
Our mouthguards keep your airway open by positioning the lower jaw outward. These devices are comfortable to wear and easily portable for vacation. We make your appliance in-house so you can go home with it right away.