Obstructive sleep apnea can be exhausting — literally.
Excessive snoring and breathing problems that keep you up at night can affect your focus and productivity during the day. In fact, if you have unmanaged sleep apnea, you’re at increased risk of driving-related and workplace-related accidents!
At 1st In Smiles, we understand that sleep is critical to your overall health and well-being. That’s why we work closely with a sleep specialist to accurately diagnose sleep apnea and find solutions that fit your busy lifestyle.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic condition where your airway experiences periodic blockages throughout the night, keeping you from a good night’s rest. This can happen dozens of times a night!
Here are some common symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Excessive snoring that wakes you and/or your partner
- Occasionally waking up feeling like you’re choking or gasping for air
- Waking up with a sore or dry throat
- Lack of energy during the day
- Headaches or migraines, particularly in the morning
- Forgetfulness or irritability
- Restless sleep
Unfortunately, sleep apnea can be serious if not properly treated. It has been linked to a number of serious health problems like heart failure. That’s because when people with obstructive sleep apnea experience an “episode” of interrupted breathing, the momentary lack of oxygen stresses the heart.
Obstructive sleep apnea can also lead to high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. And along with sleepiness and fatigue, obstructive sleep apnea can contribute to serious psychological problems, too.
Certain populations are more likely to experience obstructive sleep apnea than others. Some of the risk factors include:
- Being male
- Being older than 40
- Being overweight
- Having a large neck (17 inches or larger for men and 16 inches or larger for women)
- Having large tonsils
- Having a large tongue
- Having a small jaw bone
- Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- Deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms — and especially if you’re considered at high risk of obstructive sleep apnea — give 1st In Smiles a call. We want to help you get a better night’s rest.
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
Of course, the first step in properly treating sleep apnea is to get an accurate diagnosis.
At 1st In Smiles, we’re proud to coordinate with a highly skilled sleep specialist who has years of experience diagnosing sleep disorders.
He’ll review your medical history and have you complete a sleep test. This is done in a sleep lab. There, technicians will monitor your sleep and collect data about your breathing, blood oxygen levels, and more.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
More severe cases of sleep apnea are often treated with a CPAP — or continuous positive airway pressure — machine. A CPAP machine consists of a mask that covers your nose. It’s attached to a machine that pushes air into your nostrils to keep the airway open.
Some people find that it takes a bit of time to get used to sleeping with this device, so we also offer a strapless CPAP device.
For people suffering from more mild sleep apnea, we often recommend a simple dental device to improve nighttime breathing. The device resembles an athletic mouthguard that slightly adjusts the position of your jaw while you sleep. This prevents your airway from being blocked.
It’s important to note that lifestyle changes like weight loss have proven to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. People who are overweight are especially susceptible to obstructive sleep apnea because they have extra tissue at the back of their throats that can block their airways, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Losing just 10 percent of your body weight can reduce symptoms, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Significant weight loss can even cure the condition altogether.
At 1st In Smiles, we can help you manage the root cause of your excessive snoring. This could include lifestyle changes like weight loss or changing sleeping positions. It could also including addressing allergies.
Let 1st In Smiles Help You Sleep Better
The quality of sleep you receive is vital to your overall health and success. If you’ve been suffering from excessive snoring or any of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, let’s work together to find a solution that fits your lifestyle.