Lots of people snore, and the reasons are many. If you snore, it could be due to your sleep position, a little too much alcohol, weight challenges, or nasal congestion to name a few of the most common culprits.
But loud snoring is also a symptom of sleep apnea, a chronic sleep disorder that can lead to significant health risks if left untreated. If you have the condition, your breathing stops for up to 10 seconds multiple times throughout the night, depriving you of oxygen and disrupting restorative sleep — for you and your partner.
You may have sleep apnea without knowing it. Fortunately, there are ways to detect sleep apnea without filming yourself at night or asking a friend or partner to watch you slumber.
In this article, Dr. Ryan Fait and our team at Southern California General & Cosmetic Dentistry in Long Beach and Avalon, California, explain the telltale signs of sleep apnea and how we can help you get control.
Loud snoring is one of the classic symptoms of sleep apnea, but as we mentioned, snoring can occur for many reasons. Therefore, this stand-alone symptom doesn’t lead to a sleep apnea diagnosis.
If you sleep with someone, ask them if your snoring is accompanied by sounds of choking or gasping for air. These symptoms combined are a good indicator of sleep apnea.
You may also experience:
If you experience these symptoms, you likely have sleep apnea. The best way to know for sure is to undergo a sleep test called a polysomnogram. During this test, a technician monitors your vital signs, brain function, and breathing patterns as you sleep.
You can also use a home sleep test. While it’s not as comprehensive, it can still deliver an accurate diagnosis. You’ll need to see a medical doctor or your primary care provider for a referral for these tests.
While you’re assessing your possible symptoms, examine the characteristics of people at the highest risk for sleep apnea. These include:
These characteristics make you more susceptible to developing sleep apnea.
If you ignore sleep apnea, you can experience complications. Lack of restful sleep and oxygen deprivation affects you mentally and physically, increasing your risk for heart attacks, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
Depending on the underlying cause of your sleep apnea, some simple lifestyle changes can turn things around. For example, cutting back on alcohol and smoking can help, as can losing weight.
Dr. Fait can also provide you with a custom-made mouthguard to wear at night to open your airway and keep the oxygen flowing.
To find out for sure if your symptoms point to sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with Dr. Fait by calling either of our two locations or booking online at your convenience.