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The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea affects millions of Americans. However, many may be undiagnosed. If you snore or feel fatigued during the day, you may have this dangerous sleep disorder. At The Greater Attleboro Center for Dental Sleep Medicine in Attleboro Falls, MA, our four dentists uncover sleep apnea and treat it—read on to learn more.

Exactly what is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea happens when breathing stops as you sleep. You may snore excessively, wake many times during the night, and feel fatigued and depressed during the day. You may wake up with a headache and dry mouth, as well.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) says that these periods of wakefulness may occur several times an hour. Called micro-arousals, sleep disruptions stem from oxygen deprivation in the brain.

John Hopkins Medicine reports that the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHA) measures how many times breathing stops per hour. The higher the AHI, the more sleep apnea impacts overall health.

Sound dangerous? It is. Sleep apnea comes in three forms. They include:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, in which the soft tissues of the throat collapse to cover the airway
  • Central Sleep Apnea, or CSA, where the respiratory system and the brain do not communicate properly
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea, which features aspects of both CSA and OSA

While more males than females suffer from sleep apnea, anyone can develop it. Risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Large neck circumference
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
  • Age (over 40)
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Sleeping on your back

Harmful effects of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious health hazard. Neglected, this condition may lead to:

  • Type-2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Erectile dysfunction

Additionally, sleep apnea with its loud snoring changes interpersonal relationships, particularly with a spouse or roommate. Your job performance may suffer, as well, for sleep apnea damages concentration and memory.

Get the help you need

At The Greater Attleboro Center for Dental Sleep Medicine in Attleboro Falls, our dentists offer real solutions for sleep apnea. Based on your symptoms, medical history, and an oral exam, your dentist may recommend an in-office or at-home sleep study to monitor your symptoms and vital signs. This diagnostic test yields valuable information on your sleep pattern; you'll receive a detailed report and a care plan individualized to your situation.

Common treatments include:

  • Losing weight
  • Sleeping on the back instead of the side
  • No heavy meals or alcohol before bedtime
  • No smoking
  • Wearing an acrylic snore guard to position the lower jaw forward and thus open the airway

CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, involves wearing a facial mask nightly. Through the mask, a bedside machine delivers a constant stream of air which opens the back of the throat. Many people benefit from CPAP or oral appliance therapy singly or in combination.

Learn more

Don't wait. Enjoy better sleep and improved overall health. Contact The Greater Attleboro Center for Dental Sleep Medicine in Attleboro Falls for more information on sleep apnea: (508) 699-9550.

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