What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that interferes with your ability to breathe, causing repeated interruptions of sleep throughout the night. If you suffer from sleep apnea, your airway becomes obstructed while you sleep and signals your brain to consistently wake you up for air — which you may not remember.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health consequences. If you suspect you may be struggling with this sleep disorder, Dr. Fitz and the rest of our team at New Image Dental can help you treat it. Read on to see if sleep apnea treatment may be right for you.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is often diagnosed by disrupted sleep, but it has many other symptoms. Some of these include:
- Loud, disruptive snoring
- Gasping or choking overnight
- Daytime drowsiness
- Excessive fatigue even after you have slept
- Waking up with a headache
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Difficulty concentrating at work or on tasks
- Short-term memory loss
If you’re experiencing several of these symptoms regularly, consider scheduling an appointment with our team for a sleep test.
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
Anyone can develop sleep apnea. However, there are certain risk factors that have been associated with the disorder. The most common are:
- Obesity, or carrying excess weight.
- Neck circumference. People with thicker necks often have narrow airways.
- A family history of sleep apnea.
- Being over the age of 40.
- Excessive use of alcohol.
- Males tend to have a higher risk of developing sleep apnea.
While these are the most common risk factors, they’re not the only indications of a potential sleep apnea diagnosis.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
While there’s no cure for sleep apnea, there are several sleep apnea treatment options that will help you breathe better at night. The first step is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Fitz so he can assess your symptoms. After that, you can decide on a treatment plan together.
Common sleep apnea treatments include:
A CPAP machine is a device with a fitted mask you wear at night to help you sleep. CPAP machines have been used for sleep apnea treatment since the early 1980s, and they allowed sleep apnea patients to avoid getting a tracheostomy to be able to breathe better.
One alternative to a CPAP for sleep apnea treatment is an oral appliance. For patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea, these devices are used to prevent the tongue from blocking the throat and advance the lower jaw forward.
Your oral appliance will help keep your airways open while you sleep and is customized specifically for you. Dr. Fitz will help determine if this is the best treatment option for you.
If you have a mild case of sleep apnea, you may be able to treat it without a CPAP machine or an oral appliance. This will typically involve making some lifestyle changes, such as:
- Avoiding alcohol and any medication that makes you drowsy
- Maintaining a healthy weight, or losing weight if necessary.
- Quitting smoking.
- Sleeping on your side instead of your back or stomach.
- Trying tongue exercises, which is known as orofacial therapy.
Even if you suspect your sleep apnea is mild, it’s still important to get a proper diagnosis. This allows Dr. Fritz to recommend the best treatment option to help you regain a better night’s sleep.
Sleep Apnea Treatment at New Image Dental
Dr. Fitz and the rest of our team at New Image Dental would be happy to help you treat your sleep apnea. Don’t let your sleep apnea go untreated, causing other serious health complications. Call us today at (630) 837-0887 or fill out an online contact form and we’ll reach out as soon as we can.