How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Health

If you have a snoring problem, but haven’t been tested for sleep apnea, you need to know the dangers of ignoring this potential condition. There is a lot more at stake than just irritating your partner every night with your loud snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition in which patients stop breathing for short periods during the night. Not only is this bad for your sleep cycle, it’s also threatens your overall physical health and cognitive function.

If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), Dr. Jack Haney may have a CPAP-free solution. Call or visit our dental office to learn more about Knoxville sleep apnea treatment.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Apnea refers to cessation of breathing, and sleep apnea may be either neurological or obstructive. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type, and it is more common in men and women who are overweight. When a person with OSA falls asleep, the soft tissues of the airway relax so much that they cause vibrations in the air passage. This causes snoring, and can also lead to periods of apnea throughout the night.

Symptoms of OSA may include:

  • Gasping or choking in your sleep
  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up with a sore or dry throat
  • Irregular breathing reported by partner
  • Feeling tired, even after a full night’s sleep
  • Low energy, lack of overall good health

Risk factors of OSA:

  • Being overweight and male
  • Age 40 or older
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Nasal obstruction, due to deviated septum, allergies, or other sinus problems

How OSA Harms Your Health

Left untreated, OSA can lead to a number of serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, and diabetes. Your major organs cannot function properly when you are chronically deprived of oxygen during the night.

Beyond the effects of low blood oxygenation, there are the cognitive effects of continually interrupted sleep. When you stop breathing in your sleep, this triggers you to wake suddenly and interrupts the sleep cycle—even if you have no memory of the event. Without adequate continuous sleep, your cognitive functions may decline, leading to memory problems and an inability to concentrate or focus on tasks. In severe cases, OSA sufferers may get sleepy or experience short periods of microsleep when doing repetitive tasks, including driving. Many are unaware this is happening to them and are therefore at risk of causing traffic accidents.

Feeling poorly and having low energy levels can also lead to feelings of exhaustion and depression. Undiagnosed and/or untreated, OSA leads to continued mental and physical decline.

Diagnosis and Treatment for OSA

The only way to know for sure whether you suffer from sleep apnea is to do a sleep study with a professional sleep clinic. Dr. Jack Haney can refer you to a sleep specialist, and if you do, indeed, suffer from OSA, you may be prescribed a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to deliver oxygen to your airway through the night. There are other alternatives available, however, if a CPAP is not the right therapy for you. Ask Dr. Haney about dental sleep medicine solutions for snoring and OSA.

Mention Your Snoring at Your Next Appointment

Let Dr. Haney know if you have a snoring problem, and we will guide you through the steps of sleep testing. A customized oral appliance may help you breath better at night. To learn more about Knoxville sleep apnea treatment with Dr. Haney, call our dental office at 865-693-6886 to speak with a member of our team and schedule a consultation.

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