February 27, 2019

What is sleep apnea?

Determining if you have a sleep disorder can be difficult because, well, you’re asleep. Thankfully, your body lets you know if something is wrong. Some signs that you may have sleep apnea are if you still feel tired after a full night’s sleep and you snore quite loudly.

But what’s happening you may ask. Sleep apnea is when your breathing repeatedly stops and starts while you sleep. There are two different types, central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea occurs from the central nervous system and results in a weaker or absent effort to breathe, resulting in less blood oxygenation saturation.

The second type, obstructive sleep apnea, is more common. When the muscles and tissue in the upper airway relax too much, it will create an obstruction in the airway. This also results in a reduced blood oxygenation saturation level.

Risks and complications

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common because of the variety of factors that can lead to developing this medical condition. Pretty much everyone is at risk for sleep apnea. Some factors that can increase your risk of developing sleep apnea are obesity and thicker necks that might reduce the size of the airway. Sometimes narrow airways and enlarged tonsils or adenoids can be inherited.

Being male, a woman after menopause, or older in age will also contribute to your chances of developing obstructive sleep apnea. Smoking, nasal congestion, and consistent use of alcohol, sedatives, or tranquilizers will also increase your chances. Sleep apnea can also be hereditary.

If you have developed this serious medical condition, there are some complications that you need to watch out for. Daytime fatigue from not getting a proper sleep can occur — this will affect your day-to-day life. High blood pressure or heart problems are a risk from the lack of consistent oxygen levels.

Developing insulin resistance is increased with sleep apnea, which can cause type two diabetes. A metabolic syndrome and liver problems can occur from this as well. Other issues include complications with medication and surgeries, and a sleep-deprived partner.

How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

It can be easier to detect symptoms if you sleep with a partner. Loud snoring, gasping for air during sleep, morning headaches, insomnia, hypersomnia, difficulty concentrating, moments of no breathing during sleep and irritability are all symptoms of sleep apnea.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, a qualified dentist can help. Call Dr. Abougoush at Summerland Dental Centre for a consultation about sleep apnea. With our MATRx Plus system from Zephyr Sleep Technologies, you will be able to determine the severity of your sleep apnea from the comfort of your home. We can also help fit you for Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT), which may be the most simple and affordable treatment for your sleep apnea.