Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your wellbeing. When you consistently experience poor sleep, your physical, mental, and even dental health can suffer over time. Sleep apnea is a condition that prevents you from getting the rest you need to stay healthy and focused. Learn to identify the first signs of sleep apnea, so you can take steps toward alleviating them.
Recognizing the First Signs of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a very common condition that affects millions of people a year. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to overlook the symptoms, especially when you’re technically asleep for most of them.
One of the first signs of sleep apnea, and the most obvious, is snoring. Loud or consistent snoring can be more than an annoyance that keeps your loved ones up at night – it may be an indication of a more serious issue. During the night, soft tissue in the back of your throat collapses. This obstructs your airway, causing snoring and interruptions in your breathing that can wake you up dozens of times a night, even if you don’t always realize it.
Not all patients experience snoring, but other common signs of sleep apnea include:
- Feeling tired, even after you’ve been asleep for hours
- Sleepiness during the day
- Trouble concentrating
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Dry mouth or sore throat in the mornings
- High blood pressure
- High BMI and/or a larger neck size
Sleep Apnea Testing
If you’re concerned that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, it’s in your best interests to get tested and diagnosed by a medical professional. You can sign up for an overnight study at a sleep clinic or opt for a take-home test kit.
At My Family Dentistry, the second option includes video instructions for setting up an apparatus that will monitor physical and biological data related to your sleep patterns. Your results are then sent to trained technicians who interpret the data and provide recommendations for improvement, which often include sleep apnea treatment.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
There are a couple well-known treatments for sleep apnea, the first of which is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP. This requires a machine that increases air pressure in your throat to prevent the tissue from collapsing. For it to work, you’d have to wear either a full mask that covers your face and mouth, or a nasal mask that fits around your nose. For some patients, however, CPAP can be too distracting or uncomfortable to get a good night’s sleep.
Another option is an intraoral device that adjusts the position of your jaw to help keep your airway clear and open during sleep. Many patients prefer this method of therapy, especially since the device is custom-fitted for each individual. Learn more about this dental appliance at My Family Dentistry, where you and Dr. Mullins can discuss the first signs of sleep apnea, any other symptoms, and your choices for testing and treatment.
Take our sleep apnea quiz to find out if you exhibit the signs of sleep apnea.