An estimated 18 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious sleep disorder that can lead to other health issues. With OSA, the soft tissues collapse in the throat, which restricts the airways and causes periods where breathing stops. These apnea episodes cause you to briefly awaken and resume your normal breathing. Some people experience this pattern more than 100 times a night.
What are the types of sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is less prevalent and occurs when the brain fails to signal the body to breathe.
How do I know if I have OSA?
For those who suffer from OSA, sleep apnea can create various unpleasant side effects. Irritability, daytime drowsiness, and headaches are common symptoms experienced by individuals with sleep apnea. Snoring often indicates the presence of sleep apnea, but not all snorers have OSA.
Should I be worried about sleep apnea?
Not only does sleep apnea disturb your ability to rest, but it can also create other issues. Without treatment, sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and depression.
How do you treat sleep apnea?
If you are worried about sleep apnea, your dentist or orthodontist can review your symptoms and may possibly suggest a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis. Use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is a typical treatment recommendation for sleep apnea; however, many individuals find this therapy uncomfortable or ineffective. Your dentist can fit you for a night guard, an oral appliance that will hold your jaw in the correct position and keep your airways open.