Sleep Apnea Treatment
Are you struggling to get enough sleep? Lack of sleep is a major contributor to chronic diseases such as diabetes along with depression, obesity, and heart disease.
Sleep apnea is one of the primary causes of inadequate sleep. Composed of irregular breathing that starts and stops while you sleep, the condition can add significant distress to your daily routine.
However, at Dougherty Laybourn Menashe Dental, our skilled Portland dentists are well-versed in treating sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition comprising irregular breathing patterns. It's when your breathing stops and starts while you're sleeping. A common type of this condition is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which reduces airflow when your upper airway gets blocked.
Another type of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea. This is when your brain fails to send signals to your body for breathing. Any health conditions that hinder your brain's ability to control your chest muscles and airway properly can cause central sleep apnea.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
The most common causes of obstructive sleep apnea among adults are obesity and excess weight. The conditions are linked to the mouth's soft tissues, which block the airway when you sleep. Other possible risk factors include smoking, drug abuse, allergies, a narrow throat, and medical conditions that cause your upper airway to become congested.
For children, the causes have to do with enlarged tonsils and dental issues like having a large overbite. Other rare causes include birth defects such as Pierre-Robin syndrome and Down syndrome. Childhood obesity isn't as commonly linked to the condition as adult obesity. Regardless of the causes and age, it isn't wise to leave sleep apnea untreated, as it can lead to accidents and even premature death.
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Sometimes, the symptoms of different types of sleep apnea can overlap, making it hard to figure out which type you have. However, the most common signs include hypersomnia, insomnia, loud snoring, gasping for air while sleeping, dry mouth after waking up, irritability, difficulty paying attention, and morning headaches.
However, not everyone who snores loudly has sleep apnea. While it is dangerous, it's important to consult your doctor for a diagnosis, especially if you've been experiencing any symptoms.
Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?
If you leave it untreated for a long time, sleep apnea can cause unwanted complications. For one, daytime fatigue becomes common, resulting in drowsiness and irritability. Furthermore, your blood pressure can increase and contribute to hypertension due to sudden fluctuations in blood oxygen levels while you're sleeping.
In the long run, it could also elevate your risk of a recurrent heart attack. If you're already suffering from heart disease, low blood oxygen can also cause irregular heartbeat and sudden death.
Nonetheless, sleep apnea can cause a number of complications in the short as well as the long run. From type 2 diabetes and heart diseases to liver problems and surgery complications, the condition is linked to several outcomes if left untreated.
How to Treat Sleep Apnea
If your sleep apnea is mild, your doctor may recommend altering your lifestyle. It's imperative that you lose weight and exercise regularly if you are indeed overweight. Avoid sleeping on your back and taking sedative drugs. However, if lifestyle changes don't reap results, other treatments can come in.
Positive Airway Pressure
As the name suggests, the treatment utilizes a machine that delivers air pressure through your nose. It can significantly reduce any respiratory events that may occur. CPAP is one way that a doctor uses to keep your upper airway passages open. BPAP (Bilevel positive airway pressure) has a varying but preset amount of pressure for you to breathe in and out.
Oral devices can be an alternative to positive air pressure for people with moderate or mild sleep apnea. These devices ensure that your throat stays open and your tongue is held in a different position.
Surgery is often rare and the last resort when nothing else has worked. Surgical intervention usually focuses on removing tissue from your mouth or throat. However, jaw surgery is also an option that focuses on moving parts of your jaw forward to enlarge the space behind your tongue.
Sleep Apnea FAQs
Can Sleep Apnea Kill You?
Due to its severity, untreated sleep apnea can lead to complications such as irregular heartbeat, which may further lead to sudden death. However, for the most part, sleep apnea is treatable.
Can Sleep Apnea Be Cured?
Whether or not sleep apnea can be cured depends on the cause. If it is due to obesity, returning to a healthy weight and exercising can resolve the issue. While there is no real cure for sleep apnea, it can be managed in most cases.
Is Sleep Apnea Genetic?
While central sleep apnea isn't linked to genetics, obstructive sleep apnea can be attributed to genetics. One reason it tends to run in families is because of the shape of your jaw and airways that can be passed down. However, there is always a combination of lifestyle, health, and genetic factors at play, so the cause cannot be linked to genetics alone.
Does Sleep Apnea Go Away?
Sleep apnea can go away if the underlying cause is addressed. Sometimes, lifestyle changes are enough to improve, if not eliminate, your symptoms. However, in severe cases, surgery and devices can come in based on your professional's treatment plan and understanding of your condition.
Schedule an Appointment Today!
While sleep apnea doesn't start off as a life-threatening condition, it can become one if left untreated for a long time. Lifestyle changes can improve your prognosis, but only once our skilled professionals at Dougherty Laybourn Menashe Dental have recommended them. It's important to understand the underlying cause of your condition so you can make the right choices regarding your treatment.
If you're looking for sleep apnea treatment around Portland, give us a call at 503-334-1141 today!