Centerville residents ask, “What causes sleep apnea?”
An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, which is a disorder that is characterized by momentary pauses in breathing during sleep. If left untreated, people with sleep apnea stop breathing multiple times during their sleep, sometimes up to hundreds of times in a single night. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that deprives the brain and body of the necessary oxygen. It is associated with an increased risk in high blood pressure, stroke, chronic heart failure, diabetes, and depression.
Risk Factors for sleep apnea
Although people of all ages, even children, can have sleep apnea, there are risk factors for the disease, which include being male, being overweight, and being over the age of 40. People who have a family history of sleep apnea, GERD, allergies, or sinus problems are also at an increased risk for sleep apnea.
Cause of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is caused when the airway is blocked. During an apnea event, the brain wakes the person enough to have breathing resume. This usually occurs most during the REM cycle of sleep. Sleep apnea episodes cause disjointed sleep patterns and stress on the body due to lack of oxygen in the blood.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
There are several main symptoms of sleep apnea. Often, the individual themselves is unaware of the symptoms because they occur during sleep. Many patients report only knowing about their symptoms because of a partner or family member’s account of them.
Common symptoms include:
- Loud, chronic snoring
- Waking up abruptly with a gasping or grunting noise
- Restless sleep
- Sore throat in the morning
- Lack of energy
- High Blood Pressure
For some, treatment of sleep apnea can just involve changes in lifestyle such as losing weight or quitting smoking. Others require extensive treatment. CPAP therapy (continuous positive airway pressure) remains one of the most common and effective treatments for sleep apnea. However, CPAP compliance tends to be a problem due to the adjustment of the sounds of the machine and wearing a mask to sleep.
At Alex Bell Dental, we offer an alternative to CPAP therapy for treatment of sleep apnea. If you are in the Centerville area, call our office today to schedule a consultation.
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