Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that can cause interrupted sleep and a poor quality of life. People with this disorder typically experience abnormal breathing, including periods of shallow breathing or pauses in breathing that can last several seconds to minutes. This repeated stopping and starting of breathing can occur upwards of 30 or more times per hour. Without treatment, this issue can cause serious health complications. Fortunately, there are things you can do about your sleep issues with help from your Largo, FL dentist.
Types of Sleep Apnea
Approximately 20 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. While most people are familiar with the most common type, obstructive sleep apnea, there are also other types. Figuring out the type of disorder a person has will help dictate the best course of treatment. The most common types include:
- Obstructive – Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a partial or complete blockage of the airways during sleep. When the throat muscles relax as a person sleeps, the tongue falls back and blocks the airways. OSA can cause a range of symptoms, such as snoring, morning headaches, excessive daytime sleepiness, frequent pauses in breathing, depression, irritability, and restless sleep.
- Central – Central sleep apnea (CSA) is a sleep disorder that occurs when the brain temporarily stops sending signals to the muscles that are responsible for breathing. While OSA is a mechanical issue, CSA is considered a communication problem. People with CSA may experience mood changes, chronic fatigue, snoring, restless sleep, excessive daytime drowsiness, shortness of breath, morning headaches, or irregular breathing during sleep.
- Mixed – Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of OSA and CSA. There has been evidence that supports the development of central sleep apnea after being treated for obstructive sleep apnea with a CPAP machine after PAP therapy. Some patients continue to experience abnormal sleep even after their airways were successfully cleared.
Common Risk Factors
There are certain risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of developing obstructive sleep apnea. Obesity, narrowed airways, being male, aging, and a family history of family members with the sleeping disorder can increase a person’s risk. People with thicker necks are also at an increased risk as they may have more narrow airways. Smoking, chronic nasal congestion, and certain medical conditions can also contribute to the development.
There are also certain risk factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing central sleep apnea. This includes aging, as middle-aged and older adults are at a higher risk of developing the disorder. Being male, having a heart disorder, and having had a stroke in the past also increases a person’s risk. Other risks include the use of narcotic pain medications, especially long-acting opioids like methadone.
Treatment for sleep apnea is based on a variety of factors, such as the age of the patient, the severity of the disorder, and what treatments the patient has tried in the past. Mild cases may only require lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or losing weight. Additionally, patients with nasal allergies may be advised to undergo treatment for their allergies.
Certain therapies have been found to help treat sleep apnea. Your health provider may recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or other airway pressure devices that automatically adjust the pressure while a person sleeps. Supplemental oxygen may be recommended to patients with severe cases. In rare instances, surgery may be needed to help shrink or remove the tissue that is blocking the airway, to reposition the jaw, to stimulate the nerves, or to create a new air passageway.
Oral appliances are also a popular treatment option. Wearing an oral appliance while you sleep can help keep the throat open by bringing the jaw forward. These appliances are effective at reducing snoring and treating mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea.
Contact Your Experts in Largo, FL
Do you suffer from a sleep disorder? The friendly dental team at Bonham Dental Arts can assist in the treatment of your sleep disorder through the use of oral appliances. To learn more about treatment or to schedule an appointment, contact Bonham Dental Arts today.