Patients having sleep apnea disorder experience effects on their health ranging from mild inconveniences to severe, life-threatening conditions. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of this disorder and understanding its significance and risk to overall health is critical to avoiding the negative secondary effects posed by this sleep condition.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Characterized by repeated bouts of breathing cessation throughout the night, this sleep disorder places the sufferer at risk of bodily damage due to oxygen deprivation. A sleep apnea diagnosis reveals either the obstructive or central form of the disorder. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused by a soft tissue blockage in the back of the throat, while Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) results from communication failure between the brain and lungs.

How Do I Know if I Have Sleep Apnea?

Certain signs and symptoms of the condition often lead to the affected individual seeking a sleep apnea diagnosis. Indicators of the sleep disorder typically include one or more of the following:

  • Snoring, choking or gasping for breath
  • Shortness of breath or irregular breathing
  • Frequent periods of breathing cessation
  • Difficulty staying asleep throughout the night
  • Morning headaches, grogginess or sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating, mood swings or depression

What Can Determine If I Have Sleep Apnea?

To determine if a sleep disorder is present, a qualified dentist or sleep specialist will evaluate for signs and symptoms and perform one or more tests. A sleep apnea diagnosis can be confirmed through lab-conducted or home sleep studies administered by the specialist. Once a positive sleep apnea diagnosis has been rendered, the condition and its effects may be addressed through oral appliances, CPAP therapy, lifestyle changes or surgical procedures.

How Does Sleep Apnea Affect My Health?

Uncontrolled sleep apnea presents significant physical, emotional and behavioral risks for the affected individual. Secondary effects of the condition include increased risk of heart attack or stroke, hypertension, diabetes, chronic breathing difficulties, depression and additional health concerns. Lack of sufficient, quality sleep leads to greater potential of accidents and other hazards involving both the sleep disorder patient and others around them.

When to See a Sleep Specialist

Sleep apnea is a serious condition warranting prompt evaluation and treatment. Any signs or symptoms should be assessed by your dentist or a qualified sleep specialist to avoid the secondary effects of the disorder. For more information or to learn if your quality of sleep is being affected by sleep apnea, contact your dentist today.

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