It’s Not Just Snoring: The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Snoring is a frustrating fact of life for some people. Whether you’re the snorer or sleep next to one, snoring can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. But snoring is more than just a nuisance: It can actually be dangerous.

Regular snoring can indicate that you have a more serious condition called sleep apnea. This condition can have damaging long-term effects on your health. Read more about sleep apnea and how we at Sacred Dental & Associates, led by Dr. Agatha Nwizu, can help you feel better.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which you briefly stop breathing repeatedly during the night. There are three main types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex. All types of sleep apnea share the following symptoms:

Certain factors may present a greater risk for developing sleep apnea, including obesity, smoking, being male, nasal congestion, use of alcohol or sedatives, older age, and narrowed airways.

The risks of untreated sleep apnea

Untreated sleep apnea can negatively affect your health. Several studies have linked sleep apnea to heart attack, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and a shortened lifespan. People with sleep apnea are also five times more likely to have car accidents because of the risk of daytime sleepiness.

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of sleep apnea, but having sleep apnea also makes it harder to lose weight. Although obesity and diabetes are both linked to heart disease and stroke, the increased risks associated with sleep apnea still exist for people with sleep apnea who are not overweight.

How we treat sleep apnea

Milder cases of sleep apnea can often be resolved with simpler interventions, such as quitting smoking or losing weight. But a qualified professional needs to diagnose sleep apnea.

The most common way to diagnose sleep apnea is through a sleep study, either in a sleep lab or at home. This test measures your breathing and heart rate as you sleep. It determines how many times you wake during the night and for how long you stop breathing.

Once you receive a diagnosis of sleep apnea, the standard treatment is a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It is a machine that attaches to a hose and a mask that fits over your mouth. A CPAP machine allows you to breathe more normally while you sleep and to sleep more soundly. 

How dentists can help with sleep apnea

Dentists are often the first professionals to notice signs of sleep apnea, including teeth grinding, a small jaw, or redness in the throat. Dr. Nwizu uses a method to treat sleep apnea that many of our patients find more tolerable than a CPAP machine. 

Dr. Nwizu can fit you for a customized appliance that keeps your airways open while you sleep. The appliance fits similar to a sports mouthguard, which many people find comfortable. 

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, call either our Conyers or Stockbridge office or make an appointment online.

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