Your snoring habit could be a sign of sleep apnea, a condition that can have serious health ramifications if left untreated. Although continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines offer one solution, some people find them difficult to use. Dr. Angela Bauer, your Madison, WI, dentist, offers an alternative treatment that can help you keep your sleep apnea symptoms under control.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea causes breathing pauses while you sleep. Pauses usually last for a few seconds but can happen hundreds of time during the night. Over time, sleep apnea can raise your risk of heart attack, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other diseases and conditions.
The problem occurs when your airway becomes partially or fully blocked, preventing a steady flow of oxygen from reaching your lungs and circulating through your brain and organs via your bloodstream. Blockages can occur if your tongue falls into your airway when you sleep, the walls of your throat become too relaxed or you have excess tissue in your throat.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
Loud snoring is the symptom most associated with sleep apnea, but it's not the only one. If you have the condition, you may wake up abruptly during the night. These unexpected moments of wakefulness may be accompanied by choking or gasping for air. Choking and gasping are protective mechanisms that your body uses to restart your breathing.
This frequent waking also leads to daytime sleepiness. When you fail to get enough sleep night after night, you may soon notice that minor things begin to annoy you. In addition to irritability, you may have difficulty concentrating, experience a faulty memory, and you may even fall asleep at work or school.
Some people who have sleep apnea also wake up with sore throats or headaches. Although a morning headache will generally go away gradually, it can still be difficult to focus during the first part of your day.
How can my Madison dentist help me?
If you've been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a CPAP machine isn't the only treatment that can help you. Many people find the masks uncomfortable and can't get used to the machines no matter how hard they try. In this case, a special oral appliance fitted by your dentist can help alleviate sleep apnea, as well. The comfortable device holds your jaw forward while you sleep and prevents the tongue from falling into your airway.
Would you like to find an effective alternative to your uncomfortable CPAP machine? Call Dr. Angela Bauer, your Madison, WI, dentist, at (608) 423-3615 to schedule an appointment and discuss your sleep apnea symptoms.