Sleep apnea, or apnea, is a sleeping disorder characterized by bouts of breathlessness or shallow breathing occurring persistently through sleep. Each apneic period of breathlessness could last for a few seconds or minutes, happening many times during the night. The condition is mainly followed by loud snoring, breathing, snorting, or even choking. Sleep apnea could either be obstructive or unconscious breath halts, or a combination of both. We can help improve your sleep experience at Camas Dentistry.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by an obstruction or blockage of the airflow. If the airway is collapsible, crowded, or narrowed during sleep, it leads to an ineffective function of the pharyngeal muscle. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is brought about when one has unconscious periods where they hold breath at night. The brain fails to give signals for breathing resulting in periods of breathlessness or short breath. Symptoms of both CSA and OSA are similar. This condition causes a limited supply of oxygen to the brain and causes daytime drowsiness and confusion in the morning.
Sleep apnea symptoms include loud snoring, gasping for breath, choking, and breathing interruptions. Patients suffering from sleep apnea also experience migraines, irritability, forgetfulness, and persistent periods of awakening at night. In children, it could lead to hyperactivity during the day. Patients suffering from depression could experience a worse state and perform poorly in daily activities like school or work.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
One of the causes of sleep apnea disorder is obesity. Individuals that are overweight struggle to breathe at night due to narrow air passages. Endocrine disorders and lung diseases like asthma are also known to hinder smooth breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea could also be caused by neuromuscular abnormalities like a stroke that could inhibit the brain muscles from sending signals to the breathing organs. Heart or kidney disorders could lead to fluid buildup in the neck and chest region, frustrating the airway passage. Pregnancy is also a common cause of sleep apnea. If one suffers trauma or forceful impact to the airway region or head, there might be an obstruction in the airway. This is an emergency dental condition, and the dentist would aim to unblock the airway to ease breathing and reduce bleeding.
Management of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea treatment mainly involves behavioral therapies to correct posture and relax the breathing muscles. Appliances like CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) may be used to split or open the airway during sleep to ensure no obstruction. Individuals that are overweight are also advised to cut down their weight to improve their sleep. In children, the palatal expansion approach expands the airway to avert collapsing of airway muscles.
Surgery is an invasive method to treat sleep apnea. This is mainly resolved when other methods do not work to ease the condition. Medications may also be prescribed to treat central sleep apnea if the patient shows no risk factors of breathing depression. Oral appliances like special mouth guards also help keep the nasal and pharyngeal passages open. Stress therapies and breathing therapies are also advised to help improve the condition. We can help manage and treat your sleep apnea using methods that best suit you at Camas Dentistry. Call us via 360-837-5992 to book an appointment.