If you or a family member “rattles the rafters” while snoring, it’s an annoyance. If that snoring is accompanied by choking, gasping for air, frequent awakening, or even not breathing for short periods of time, it may indicate sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious condition that can cause a host of health and safety problems. Fortunately, you or your loved one can get effective relief from sleep apnea from Dr. Rick Barfield at 1st In Smile in Plano, TX.
About Sleep Apnea
The most common form of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when the soft tissues inside the mouth relax too much during sleep, obstructing the airway. There are a number of reasons why that obstruction can occur. Being significantly overweight is a common cause of apnea. Sometimes, there are structural issues in the mouth that contribute to breathing problems while asleep. Allergies or a deviated septum in the nose can also play a role.
Regardless of the cause, the result is that the airway is obstructed at times. That causes a drop in the oxygen levels in the blood, and the sleeper may gasp, choke, and awaken very briefly to take a breath. Most people don’t recall waking up at all, even though it may happen dozens or even hundreds of times each night!
This unrefreshing sleep puts people at serious risk of injury or worse while driving, operating machinery, or even while handling sharp objects. Attention suffers which can impact job performance and even everyday activities.
Beyond those problems, sleep apnea is associated with a number of serious health problems: including heart problems, weight gain, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and much more.
Is It Sleep Apnea?
There are other reasons for heavy snoring besides sleep apnea. An accurate diagnosis requires a sleep study conducted by a qualified professional with specific training.
1st In Smiles will coordinate your sleep study with a trusted local specialist, and if sleep apnea is diagnosed, he’ll recommend what he sees as the most effective treatment option for the severity of your condition.
Sleep Apnea Solutions
The most common approach to treating obstructive sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Air Pressure which explains what the machine does. A CPAP provides a constant stream of air through a mask or a nosepiece that you wear while you sleep. The air pressure keeps the airway open and allows the former snorer to awaken refreshed.
CPAPs are very effective, particularly for severe sleep apnea, but not everyone can tolerate them. Ill-fitting straps or masks, noise from the machine, and getting tangled in the hose while rolling over are just some of the reasons people give for not using a CPAP.
There is another, very effective, sleep apnea treatment for mild to moderate conditions – a completely customized night guard from Dr. Rick Barfield at 1st In Smiles. A properly-fitting night guard will reposition your jaw to hold your airway open during sleep. Many people find it much more comfortable and portable than a CPAP. If you have a tendency to grind your teeth, a night guard can also help prevent excess wear and tear on your tooth enamel.