What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder where you have shallow breathing or stop breathing when you are asleep.   Often undiagnosed, this disorder can cause drowsiness, weight gain, and heart problems.  Sleep apnea is often undetected by the person with the disorder.  It is more likely that a family member will be the one to notice the signs.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are two types of sleep apnea, central and obstructive.  Central sleep apnea means that the part of your brain that controls breathing doesn’t send the right signals to your body so you may go short periods without breathing.  This can affect anyone but tends to be more common in people with specific medical conditions.  This type of sleep apnea can occur without the snoring that accompanies other forms.

The more common form, obstructive sleep apnea, is when your airway becomes blocked or collapses during sleep.  Snoring is very common with this form of the disorder because it occurs as the air tries to get past the blockage.  People who are overweight have a higher risk of having this form of sleep apnea but it can occur in anyone.

Sleep Apnea and your Health

Without treatment for the disorder, you may develop more health complications.  The decreased oxygen levels in your body at night can increase your risk of diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure, obesity and stroke.  It is very important that you seek treatment as soon as you discover that there may be a problem.  If you already have heart health issues, are obese, or have diabetes, then sleep apnea can cause further complications with your condition.

Irregular breathing at night can also increase your chances of developing an arrhythmia or having heart failure.  And because your body isn’t receiving adequate rest at night, it can also lead to drowsiness during the job or while driving which can lead to work related or driving related accidents.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

Treatment typically consists of lifestyle changes.  If you are overweight then losing weight can help improve or resolve your condition.  Sometimes mouthpieces, breathing devices such as a CPAP, or surgery may be required to help create a clear airway.

If you or a loved one suffer from sleep apnea, call Progressive Dental Care Center for a consultation.

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