Millions of Americans snore in their sleep and, aside from a few angry spouses, it’s can be nothing to get too worried about. Some people who snore, however, especially those who wake up feeling tired the next day, may be suffering from sleep apnea.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a treatable condition that, if left alone, can be life-threatening. People with sleep apnea are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, frequently gain weight and can suffer from decreased mental function.
When you snore, those sounds are made because the body has to make an extra effort to take in air. If you have sleep apnea, your airway becomes partially blocked intermittently while you sleep, and can even become fully blocked. This blocks airflow to the lungs and until the brain partially awakens the sleeper. If not treated, sleep apnea can have serious consequences. Signs of sleep apnea include:
- Disrupted breathing during sleep or sudden awakenings during the night
- Dry throat and mouth in the morning after sleep
- Sleepiness during the daytime, even after a “full night’s sleep”
- Irritability or trouble focusing
Who is at Risk for Sleep Apnea
People of all ages, including children, can develop sleep apnea, although it is most commonly found in males and older adults. There are, however, some things that put you at a greater risk. Those include:
- Being overweight
- Having a thin neck or restricted airway (sometimes caused by inflamed tonsils)
How is Sleep Apnea Treated?
Most people who think of sleep apnea think of the oversized CPAP machines, a mask-and-hose contraption that patients wear while they sleep. Thankfully, CPAP isn’t the only way to treat sleep apnea.
At Berkeley Hills Dentistry we use an oral appliance that looks like a mouth guard or retainer to treat sleep apnea. The appliance works by pushing the jaw forward while a patient sleeps to maintain an open airway. This device is called TAP.