Sleep apnea is a serious and growing problem in our country. In fact, the American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that nearly 22 million Americans go to bed with sleep apnea every night. What’s more concerning is that 80% of cases often go undiagnosed.
People living with sleep apnea are quick to ignore it as a snoring problem, ignoring the other warning signs that point to this potentially serious sleep disorder.
Dr. Ryan Fait at Southern California General & Cosmetic Dentistry knows the dangers of letting your sleep apnea go undiagnosed and untreated. Today, he’s sharing his best information with you, so you can identify six other warning signs that you have sleep apnea and get the treatment you need quickly.
Overview of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which your breathing stops as you sleep. The most common type of sleep apnea, known as obstructive sleep apnea, stems from an abnormal relaxing of your throat muscles, which blocks your airways.
Breathing can stop for ten seconds or longer before your brain realizes what’s happening and suddenly wakes you to resume normal breathing.
This pattern of sleeping, sudden waking, and gasping for air can repeat itself anywhere from five to upwards of 30 times every hour.
Anyone can experience sleep apnea, but some factors increase your risk, including being overweight, having narrow airways, being a man or postmenopausal woman, and smoking.
At the very least, sleep apnea can disrupt you and your partner’s daily life due to the lack of sleep. In the most severe cases, it can cause cardiovascular problems, complications with medications and surgery, and eye problems.
That’s why Dr. Fait is so dedicated to helping you and others identify the warning signs of sleep apnea and get the necessary treatment. Let’s take a closer look at six common symptoms of sleep apnea.
#1: Morning headaches
Sleep apnea often causes you to wake up with a headache because of both a lack of oxygen and the side effects of disrupted sleep.
Most of our patients experience sleep apnea headaches more than 15 times a month and report pressing pain on both sides of the head. Sleep apnea headaches don’t usually come with other symptoms and typically resolve throughout the morning.
#2: Lack of focus
When it comes to sustaining all-day focus, there’s nothing better than getting a full night of restful sleep. Unfortunately, sleep apnea makes getting restorative sleep nearly impossible.
The different chemicals in your brain become activated and deactivated during the natural cycles of sleep. If your brain can’t cycle through the normal sleep process, it becomes overworked, leaving you foggy and unable to concentrate the next day.
#3: Trouble with memory
Similar to sleep apnea’s effect on your focus during the day, it also impacts memory. The sleep cycles are crucial to memory consolidation. Without them, your brain doesn’t have the time necessary to commit information, sequences, and other complete important details of memory.
#4: Mental health issues
Sleep apnea can also trigger mental health issues like depression and stress.
There are many chemicals in your brain, all responsible for various functions. Glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are two chemicals that play a role in regulating emotions and thinking.
Sleep apnea disrupts the delicate balance of these two chemicals. The abnormally high levels of glutamate stress your brain and the low levels of GABA can’t keep up to calm the reaction, causing an imbalance in your mood.
All of us have experienced a day without restful sleep. Without sleep, your brain is overworked and you experience a violent chemical imbalance behind the scenes. That can cause you to become irritable, and experience personality changes throughout the day.
#6: Sore throat
Waking up with a sore throat and dry mouth is another tell-tale sign of sleep apnea. The snoring and the constant gasping for air throughout the night can result in waking up with a sore, tender throat and dry mouth.
Treating your sleep apnea
Sleep apnea affects everyone differently, but if you experience one or more of the warning signs of sleep apnea, it’s essential that you make an appointment with Dr. Fait as soon as possible.
You’ll meet with him to discuss your health history and your symptoms. Once he determines that you have sleep apnea, he moves forward, fitting you for a custom-made intraoral device.
This specially made dental appliance holds your jaw in the correct position to allow for constant airflow, less snoring, and a better night’s sleep.
If you’d like more information or you’d like to schedule a consultation, request an appointment online or over the phone today.