About 25% of men and 10% of women have sleep apnea, many of whom go undiagnosed for longer than they should. If you’re waking up your partner in the middle of the night from snoring too loudly or getting up feeling exhausted, you may have sleep apnea. Did you know there are three different kinds of sleep apnea? The right treatment plan could help you get the sleep you need to get through the day without struggling to stay awake at work.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes you to stop breathing multiple times a night. These episodes can occur up to 30 or more times in an hour. Your normal breathing pattern should start again soon after. At this point, it has disrupted your sleep numerous times and has caused you to move from a deeper sleep to a lighter sleep.
A serious consequence of sleep apnea is that because there is less oxygen in your system, your heart, diaphragm and muscles have to work harder to get your oxygen levels back to normal. In other words, if you have this condition, your body has to work twice as hard to function, making your quality of sleep less than subpar. If you’re not getting the sleep you should be, it can result in negative changes in your day-to-day life.
There are three different kinds of sleep apnea—all of which are associated with poor breathing while sleeping. Different types of the condition have different causes and oftentimes go undiagnosed.
- Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea and is caused when the airway becomes physically blocked by collapsing tissue at the back of your throat. The result is limited air and blood flow to the brain. The brain then sends an emergency signal to urge you to breathe again.
- Central sleep apnea happens when your brain can’t send the proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. It can be caused by many health problems including heart failure, strokes and Parkinson’s.
- Lastly, mixed sleep apnea is when you may experience both obstructive and central sleep apnea at the same time. The only way to get diagnosed with mixed apnea is to attend a recorded sleep study.
Fortunately, you have treatment options for your diagnosed sleep apnea. It is important to make sure you are diagnosed by your physician first. Once you have your diagnosis in hand, you can start exploring your options with your dentist.
For people who have mild to moderate forms of OSA, you could try oral appliance therapy. It’s similar to if you’ve ever worn a nightguard or retainer. Your oral appliance is meant to reposition your jaw and tongue so that airway blockage doesn’t happen. Your dentist can custom fit them which accounts for the unique shape of your teeth and mouth.
Another treatment option is to sleep with a CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. You would wear a face mask while sleeping that’s connected to a pump providing a positive air flow to keep your airways open. While effective, many patients struggle to use a CPAP because it’s fairly obstructive when it comes to sleeping in comfort.
No matter what type of sleep apnea you have, there are always treatment options for you. Whether sleeping with a CPAP from a physician or going to your dentist for your own custom-molded oral appliance, you can improve your quality of sleep and everyday life.
About the Practice
Drs. Neil Flenniken and Suzan Rismani-Flenniken offer the community of Vienna the finest dental care. With decades of dental experience, they can be your one-stop-shop for everything from sleep apnea treatment to dental implants. For any questions or to schedule an appointment, visit their website or call (703) 714-7374.
Sick of Restless Nights? You May Have Sleep Apnea