Snoring every once in a while is harmless (if annoying for nearby sleepers), but if you’ve received complaints of loud or chronic snoring, it might be a sign that you’re suffering from sleep apnea. With this condition, your breathing decreases and even stops altogether while you’re asleep – potentially hundreds of times every night. Consequently, you might notice that you’re exhausted during the day and have trouble focusing – and over the long term, the health consequences could become even more severe. If you think you’re having trouble sleeping soundly at night, contact Downtown Family Dental of Leesburg for a consultation; if you do have sleep apnea, Dr. Pham and Dr. Groy can help you find an effective treatment.
The most common form of this disorder is obstructive sleep apnea. This is when your tongue or other soft tissues relax when you fall asleep and collapse, blocking the airway. Patients who are overweight or are suffering from obesity are particularly likely to suffer from this condition. Other common risk factors include naturally narrow airways, smoking, diabetes, asthma, and consistent nasal congestion. Note that sleep apnea is more likely to develop in men and people with a family history of the disorder.
The most recognizable signs of sleep apnea occur while you’re asleep. Your partner or roommate may tell you if you’ve been snoring loudly or if they’ve noticed you gasping for air while you’re asleep. If you live on your own, it can be harder to notice sleep apnea, but you might notice the development of morning headaches, concentration problems, memory problems, dry or sore throat upon awakening, and general irritability.
Living with sleep apnea means you’ll rarely (if ever) get enough sleep to function properly during the day. You could be at a higher risk for accidents on the highway or when operating heavy machinery. Furthermore, sleep apnea has been linked to increased blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes; if you leave the condition untreated, you could eventually suffer from a life-threatening cardiovascular problem. For this reason, it is essential to have your sleep disorder diagnosed as soon as possible so that it can be addressed.
Once you’ve been diagnosed by a doctor or sleep specialist, you can start considering ways to eliminate your sleep apnea. Downtown Family Dental of Leesburg can offer oral sleep appliances that gently reposition your lower jaw in a way that keeps the airway clear. It’s most effective in cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea; it can also be used as a substitute for CPAP if you find that you can’t tolerate the machine. Each oral appliance is customized so that it fits comfortably in your mouth and addresses your unique issues. We might also suggest a few lifestyle changes in addition to professional treatment; for example, if you sleep on your back, switching to side sleeping might dramatically decrease your sleep apnea symptoms.