Waking up after a night of sleep and still feeling exhausted isn’t a good way to live. Have you ever felt like that? If that feeling of exhaustion came along with lots of snoring, a dry mouth, a feeling of fatigue all day long, headaches, and difficulty focusing you might be suffering from a dangerous condition called sleep apnea.
It’s not an uncommon problem to have, but that doesn’t make it any less risky. Sleep apnea can lead to all sorts of health problems the longer it goes untreated, and it can also be very tricky to discover and diagnose. If you’re a chronic snorer you should be aware of these different risk factors – you don’t want to let sleep apnea go untreated!
Sleep Apnea: What Exactly Is It?
Your body completely relaxes when you sleep, and that includes the soft tissues that surround your airway. When they relax to the point that it interferes with breathing you end up snoring really loudly. When your airways gets completely blocked your breathing can stop completely, which is known as an apnea.
We all snore once in a while, but chronically loud snoring can be an indicator of sleep apnea. Snoring can be interrupted by apneas without a sleep partner even noticing, and the longer the condition continues the worse off it is.
Over time sleep apnea can cause an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, depression, and it’s even linked to diabetes. Many of these conditions can be prevented with prompt treatment!
Are You At Risk For Sleep Apnea?
There are a lot of things that can contribute to a risk of developing sleep apnea. This list isn’t exhaustive and having these risk factors is by no means a guarantee that you’ll develop it.
- Obesity: being overweight is one of the most common risk factors for sleep apnea. If you are carrying excess weight there’s more tissue that can collapse on your airway and interrupt breathing.
- A Large Neck: whether due to excess weight or being incredibly muscular, a large neck is a risk factor too. Men with necks more than 17” in circumference and women whose necks are larger that 16” need to be careful!
- A Small Neck: the inverse is true too – a small neck simply means there’s less room for an ample airway. You may even have a smaller windpipe that’s easier to block.
- High Blood Pressure: while it can be a result of sleep apnea it’s also a risk factor. If you’re suffering from hypertension you need to see your doctor to get help resolving it.
- Chronic Nasal Congestion: suffering from allergies or sinusitis? You’re more likely to snore, and you’re more likely to have a constricted airway too. Both can up your chances of an apneic episode.
- Diabetes: patients with diabetes are at a statistically higher risk for developing sleep apnea as well.
- Gender, Age, And Ethnic Background: men suffer from sleep apnea more frequently than women, but that gap evens out after menopause! People of african descent have a higher chance to develop it as well.
- Smoking: tobacco smoke acts as a constricting agent, causing your airway to shrink. With less space available to breath easily your risks are greatly increased.
- Alcohol Consumption: drinking relaxes bodily tissue, which can cause your throat to collapse more easily.
- A Family History Of Sleep Apnea: sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do – your genes can play a deciding factor no matter what.
How We Can Help
Our Orlando dental team has been treating sleep apnea for a long time. We can diagnose and prescribe a solution in no time at all! The most common treatment for sleep apnea involves the use of a simple mouthguard. You wear it when sleeping, and it keeps your jaw in a comfortable neutral position. This encourages you to breath through your nose and it stops the last bit of airway collapse that can cause an apnea.
For patients that don’t find relief in a mouthguard we can also offer CPAP treatment. CPAP machines force pressurized air into your lungs while you sleep, preventing your airway from getting blocked at all.
We Want To Help!
There is no “wait and see” with sleep apnea. If you’re concerned that you might be suffering from this dangerous condition you need to seek help right away.