Sleep Apnea: What Causes It, and What Are the Various Treatment Options?
Sleep apnea is a prevalent sleep disorder afflicting millions of individuals worldwide, and it is unfortunate how it often goes undiagnosed and untreated. This brief explores the various causes of sleep apnea in addition to the available treatment options. Whether it is considering lifestyle changes or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, this article offers helpful insights into managing it and achieving restful sleep.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by short periods of breathing stoppage. Your brain responds to these episodes by waking you up so that you can breathe, but sleep apnea can prevent you from getting restful sleep. You can manage this disorder if you adhere to prescribed treatments but left untreated, it can cause more severe complications.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Common sleep apnea symptoms include:
- Gasping for air in your sleep
- Loud snoring
- Breathing stoppage when sleeping
- Morning headaches
- Feelings of exhaustion after waking up
- Daytime sleepiness
- Mood changes
- Night sweats
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
There are three types of sleep apnea, each caused by unique factors.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This form of sleep apnea occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax. When this happens, your airway narrows or closes completely when you breathe in. Because you aren’t getting sufficient air, the oxygen levels in your blood go down. Your brain senses the oxygen scarcity, waking you up so you can reopen your airways.
- Central Sleep Apnea: This is an uncommon type of it that happens when your brain doesn’t send signals to your breathing muscles. This means you stop breathing for short periods and may wake up gasping for air.
- Mixed/Complex Sleep Apnea: This form combines both central and obstructive events.
Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, pay your doctor or dentist a visit for a diagnosis. They will evaluate you based on your sleep history and symptoms.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
Your dentist may recommend any of the following treatment options depending on the severity of your condition.
Positive Airway Pressure Therapy Devices
These include the following:
- CPAP Machine: A CPAP machine is ideal for those with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. The device delivers air pressure via a mask as you sleep.
- BiPAP (Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure) Machine: While the CPAP machine is efficient at managing sleep apnea, some may find it uncomfortable or cumbersome. Here is where the BiPAP machine comes in. Like the CPAP, it keeps your airways open by providing a stream of air. The only difference is that while the CPAP causes exhaling difficulties because of the steady pressure, the BiPAP machine doesn’t give the same constant pressure at all times, so you get less air as you breathe out.
- Oral Appliances: PAP machines are more effective at treating sleep apnea, but some individuals prefer oral appliances. Most of these devices are tailored to push your jaw forward so your airway can stay open. Others keep their tongue in position.
Your dentist may also recommend these lifestyle changes to combat sleep apnea:
- Weight Loss: Scientists argue that fat deposits in the upper airway can restrict airflow and prevent the proper functioning of the muscles there. Weight loss, therefore, through diet and exercise, is an incredible tool in sleep apnea treatment.
- Change in Sleeping Position: Most people that sleep on their backs often snore and struggle with sleep apnea. Positional therapy will help ensure you sleep in other positions. For instance, your dentist may recommend wearing something around your back or waist to encourage you to sleep on your side.
- Cutting out Alcohol: Professionals have found a link between alcohol and sleep apnea. Having a drink before sleeping might cause sleep apnea or worsen its symptoms. Therefore, your doctor may recommend quitting alcohol to manage it.
- Quitting Smoking: Tobacco smoking exacerbates sleep apnea symptoms, so your dentist may ask you to quit smoking altogether.
This is often the last resort. Surgical options may include:
- Tissue Removal: If you can’t tolerate PAP machines or oral appliances, your dentist may extract tissues from the back of your threat. The action stops the vibration of throat structures that causes snoring.
- Tissue Shrinkage: Instead of removing tissue from your throat, your doctor may shrink them using radiofrequency ablation.
- Repositioning of the Jaw: Your doctor moves your jaw forward, enlarging the space between the tongues. Doing so reduces the risk of air obstruction.
- Nerve Stimulation: You will have to undergo surgery so your doctor can insert a stimulator for the hypoglossal nerve–the one responsible for tongue movement. With the increased stimulation, your tongue is kept in position so the airway remains open at all times.
To sum it up, sleep apnea poses significant health risks and impacts overall well-being but effective treatment options are available. While CPAP therapy is a widely used method, individuals seeking alternative solutions can turn to 6ix Eglinton Dental for specialized care. Our team of dentists is at the forefront of sleep medicine, offering innovative oral appliance therapies tailored to each of our patient’s needs. Contact us today and book an appointment.
Dental Studio On Wellesley: Best Dentist on Yonge and Wellesley
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