Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder that affects 22 million people in the United States according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. Those with sleep apnea do not breathe continuously when they enter certain stages of sleep. If you are a noisy snorer or still feel sleepy when you wake up in the morning, you may be suffering from sleep apnea.
- Feeling drowsy during the day
- Loud snoring
- Periods of not breathing during sleep (must be noticed by someone else)
- Sudden waking with shortness of breath
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Waking up with a headache
- Trouble concentrating
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Depending on the severity of your sleep apnea, you may need to see your doctor or dental provider about treatment options.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
Moderate to severe sleep apnea may require the use of a CPAP device. The device consists of a mask that is hooked up to a machine whicih pushes air into your airways while you sleep. This constant air pressure keeps your air passages open, helping to prevent sleep apnea and snoring. While this device is popular and effective, some find it uncomfortable. Adjustable straps and alternate face masks are some options to improve comfort.
Expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP)
This device consists of a small valve worn over each nostril during sleep. This valve facilitates air movement on the inhale and slows the air on the exhale. Tiny holes in the valve increase the pressure in your airway to keep it open.
Your dental provider may offer the option of an oral appliance for sleep apnea treatment. Some appliances are designed to open the throat by pushing the jaw forward, which may stop snoring and mild sleep apnea. Many different kinds of oral devices are available, so some trial and error may be involved.
Surgery is typically a last resort when all other options have been exhausted. Sleep apnea surgery involves widening the airway to open up the upper air passages.
Snoring is often considered an insignificant problem, but it can be a sign of something potentially serious. It is best to discuss any concerns with your doctor.