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Sleep + Health

Sleep Disorder Breathing/

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders, but due to its wide range of symptoms, it is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This disorder causes patients to experience breathing cessation for ten or more seconds at a time during sleep. While many patients experience apnea and hypopnea (shallow breathing or cessation of breath for less than ten seconds), those diagnosed with sleep apnea can experience 100s of these apnea events each night. The cessation of breath causes the brain to trigger a panic response from the body to restart breathing. These repeated panic responses elevate blood pressure and cause you to waken. The elevated blood pressure and sleep deprivation that occurs when patients suffer from sleep apnea can lead to a number of health concerns. 

Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea

The main reason sleep apnea is so often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed is that the warning signs are so varied. 

  • Loud, chronic snoring

  • Waking gasping, choking, or wheezing

  • Waking with sore throat or hoarse voice

  • Waking with headaches

  • Severe daytime sleepiness even after you receive an adequate amount of sleep

  • Falling asleep or napping at unusual times

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Memory loss

  • Changes in mood or behavior

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

It’s especially important that you reach out to our office or a local sleep specialist if you fit into one of the demographics that are considered at risk. Patients who are at higher risk for sleep apnea include:

  • Men are almost twice as likely to suffer from sleep apnea

  • Those over the age of 50

  • Those with a BMI over 35 kg/m2

  • Neck circumference greater than 16 inches

Diagnosis

If we determine you are likely suffering from sleep apnea, Pax Dental offers at-home sleep studies. In the comfort of your own bed, these monitors collect data about the number and duration of sleep apnea events. We’ll evaluate the reports and help you create a personalized treatment plan to improve your sleep.

What other problems can sleep apnea lead to?

In addition to these day-to-day difficulties, sleep apnea can lead to a greater risk of certain bodily illnesses and diseases. In particular, your heart and blood vessels must work harder during pauses in breathing, which leads to health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. 

Is this common?

An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and a staggering 80 percent of those cases have not been medically diagnosed. In the case of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the condition causes your airway to become fully or partially blocked while you are sleeping, which results in lapses in breathing.

Is snoring normal?

Over half of the population snores to some degree, and in many cases, it’s just a harmless (if annoying) habit. However, if the snoring is significantly loud, frequent, or punctuated by pauses in breathing, that’s cause for concern.