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What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder commonly characterized by repeated interruptions to breathing while sleeping. The disruption to normal breathing creates an imbalance between the carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the bloodstream. During these apneic episodes, not enough carbon dioxide exits the body, and not enough oxygen enters. Sensing imbalance, the brain sends an alarm signal to the body, telling the body to wake up to restart the breathing process. People with sleep apnea will awake partially as they struggle for air. This is often accompanied by snoring or gasping. Unfortunately, many people are unaware they have a sleeping disorder because they often do not completely awaken during the episodes. As many as 60 million Americans could be living with undiagnosed OSA.
The Two Types of Sleep Apnea
|Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
||Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
- The brain fails to send important signals to the breathing muscles
- Extremely life-threatening
- Not commonly treated with an oral appliance
- Very common
- Easily treated by a dentist trained in Sleep Medicine with an oral appliance
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
OSA can be life threatening and leaves you feeling exhausted. Without treatment, OSA puts additional stress on the body and the immune system. The chronic failure of the body to rest and rejuvenate can accelerate existing health conditions. Sleep apnea is commonly associated with other serious medical conditions, including:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Early intervention can prevent progression of the condition and drastically improve overall health. If you experience any signs of sleep apnea, a simple at-home sleep test could bring you one step closer to a better quality of life.
Potential Signs of Sleep Apnea
- Snoring/Your bed partner complains about your snoring
- Your bed partner complains about your lack of breathing
- Falling asleep while driving
- Trouble concentrating
- Increasing forgetfulness
- Feeling easily irritable
- Night sweats
- Restless sleep
- Gasping for breath during sleep
- Tired during the day
- High Blood Pressure