Sleep Better By Treating Your Sleep Apnea
You may have seen the news last month about the autopsy report for actress Carrie Fisher, who passed away last December. Multiple factors contributed to her death, but one stood out — sleep apnea.
News reports can be helpful in raising awareness about this sleep disorder and hopefully will encourage more people to get tested and treated. Expert estimates vary, but many put the number of people with sleep apnea in the U.S. between 18 and 22 million people.
More concerning, however, is a report that a majority of those people have never been diagnosed, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. And if they haven’t been diagnosed, then they aren’t getting treated either.
If you suspect that you or someone you love may have sleep apnea, please contact Clearwater Dental Associates. Call (727) 373-6628 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation with one of our dentists if you live in or near Clearwater, FL.
Risks Associated With Sleep Apnea
As we mentioned above, sleep apnea was listed as a factor in Carrie Fisher’s death. This makes sense when you consider:
▸ People with sleep apnea are likely to have high blood pressure.
▸ People with sleep apnea have an increased risk of heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
▸ People with sleep apnea have an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
▸ People with sleep apnea are more than twice as likely as other drivers to be involved in car accidents.
Any of these are bad for your health. Leaving your sleep apnea undiagnosed and untreated is asking for trouble.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
According to the sleep apnea association, sleep apnea “is an involuntary cessation of breathing that occurs while the patient is asleep.” The word apnea comes from a Greek word that means “without breath.”
People with sleep apnea have breathing stoppages that last from 10 seconds to more than a minute.
A patient with mild sleep apnea stops breathing 5 to 14 times every hour.
A patient with moderate sleep apnea stops breathing 15 to 29 times every hour.
And a patient with severe sleep apnea stops breathing 30 or more times every hour.
As you can see, this means someone with untreated sleep apnea may stop breathing dozens or even hundreds of times every night.
That’s scary to think about, and it can be scarier for a spouse or partner who notices these stoppages night after night. Why does the spouse or partner notice this? Because of one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea.
Snoring And Other Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Before you worry that snoring means sleep apnea, you should know that most people snore from time to time. The difference is that a person with sleep apnea snores every night, and this snoring is loud and seems to be never-ending (with the exception of the times he or she stops breathing).
This kind of constant snoring can wake up family and friends, and it can be loud enough to wake up the person snoring, too. If you or someone you love is snoring like this, that may be sufficient reason to get tested for sleep apnea.
While snoring may be the most noticeable symptom, it’s not the only one. Here are some other signs that you may want to be tested for sleep apnea:
◻ Frequent daytime sleepiness (including and especially while driving)
◻ Waking up with dry mouth
◻ Waking up with a headache
◻ Waking up feeling like you haven’t really slept
◻ Frequent irritability
Although anyone can have this condition, losing weight and reducing or eliminating alcohol and tobacco use can reduce your risk of sleep apnea.
Get Tested, Get Treated
The only way to confirm a sleep apnea diagnosis is with a sleep test. A sleep professional can analyze your sleep patterns to determine if you may have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.
If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (which is the most common type), our dentist office in Clearwater, FL, could help you. We can create an oral appliance for you to wear while you sleep.
This is similar to a mouthguard, but instead of protecting your teeth, this appliance pulls your jaw forward slightly. This can allow you to breathe easier when you fall asleep, and it can reduce your snoring as well.
This can help you and your spouse get the deep, restful sleep that you need.