Questions about Sleep Apnea

Dentist Serving Buffalo, Lancaster, Orchard Park, New York

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious condition caused by interruptions in your breathing during sleep. When left untreated by your Buffalo dentist or another healthcare professional, sleep apnea can lead to potentially life-threatening health issues. One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is loud snoring.

What are the different types of sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the disorder. It occurs when your throat muscles relax, blocking your airway during sleep. Central sleep apnea is much rarer. In central sleep apnea, your breathing is impaired because your brain does not send the proper signals to your breathing muscles during sleep. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of the other two types of sleep apnea.

Am I at risk for sleep apnea?

More than 15 million people suffer from sleep apnea across the United States. Anyone can develop sleep apnea, although certain risk factors will predispose you to the condition. These sleep apnea risk factors include:

  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • being male
  • having a large neck circumference
  • genetics

What are the dangers of sleep apnea if left untreated?

Because sleep apnea could simply be the symptom of an underlying problem, you should find out why you have it. Some of the causes of sleep apnea may include:

  • obesity
  • steady use of alcohol
  • smoking

These, in and of themselves, are potentially life threatening and come with a host of health problems. Sleep apnea can also lead to obesity due to changes in your body when you are robbed of much needed rest. Because sleep apnea cuts off your regular breathing, your blood is starved of oxygen that your brain and heart need. Lack of oxygen to these organs releases stress hormones that can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

If I snore, do I have sleep apnea?

Snoring is caused by an obstruction to your airway when your throat muscles relax. Your throat will vibrate when struggling to breathe due to this obstruction, creating the sound you hear in snoring. While snoring is generally associated with sleep apnea, the two do not always go together. It is important to contact an experienced sleep apnea dentist if you suffer from snoring.

How is breathing restored to normal?

When your airway gets blocked, your blood will contain reduced levels of oxygen and increased levels of carbon dioxide. As a result, your brain will rouse you from sleep in order to reopen your airway. This generally happens with a snort or a gasp. These pauses in sleep prevent you from achieving the rest you need during a night’s sleep. Frequently, people suffering from sleep apnea are unaware that they are awakened from sleep hundreds of times a night.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Some people can treat their sleep apnea by making minor lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, drinking or smoking less, or changing sleeping positions. For more severe cases of sleep apnea, oral appliances or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) can help alleviate symptoms. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary.

To learn more about how to correct your sleep apnea, please contact Dr. Evola today to set up a consultation. The Forestream Dental serves patients in the Buffalo, Amherst, Williamsville, Lancaster, and Orchard Park, New York areas.