Is Your Chronic Snoring a Health Hazard?

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Man keeping wife awake with his snoringDo you have a problem with chronic snoring? Does your snoring keep your loved ones awake all night? Do you sometimes wake yourself up with your snoring? Chronic snoring can often signify a more serious condition, known as sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea has been linked to serious medical conditions, such as heart attack and stroke, and can cause patients to feel fatigued and sleepy all day. Dr. Richard Hada has experience helping patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea breathe easier at night, allowing them, and their families, to get the good night’s sleep they deserve.

To learn more about chronic snoring and sleep apnea, call our Mission Viejo, CA, dental office today at (949) 951-1067 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Hada.

What is Sleep Apnea?

While sleep apnea mostly develops in overweight people, the disease can affect anyone, and many people will have no idea they suffer from it. No blood tests exist to detect sleep apnea, and it usually goes undetected during a routine medical exam. Most sleep apnea patients find out they have a problem from someone who shares a room or bed with them.

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of the condition, is a chronic condition that causes patients to experience a collapse or blockage of the airway as they sleep. This leads to snoring, shallow breathing, and sometimes even a pause in breathing.

These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, and usually end in a gasp or a choking sound. The pauses and shallow breaths can happen from 1 to 100 times in a night, and each one causes your brain to move you from deep sleep to light sleep. This lack of quality sleep causes apnea sufferers to feel tired all day and have trouble focusing.

Effects of Sleep Apnea

Aside from a lack of quality sleep at night, sleep apnea can cause many adverse effects on patients. Patients may have difficulty concentrating, and find themselves exhausted during the day. Many become irritable and experience a rise in blood pressure.

Left untreated, sleep apnea can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and irregular heartbeats. The condition occurs most often in overweight people, and increases the risk for obesity and diabetes. The lack of quality sleep can lead to accidents at work or while driving.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

Snoring does not always signal that a person has sleep apnea, but it does represent one of the most common symptoms of the condition. Patients should watch for other symptoms that may also indicate a problem with sleep apnea. The patient may need another person to confirm some of these symptoms, as they will usually occur while asleep. Common obstructive sleep apnea symptoms include:

  • Pauses that take place while snoring, followed by episodes of choking or gasping
  • Periods of up to a minute when the patient stops breathing
  • Extreme fatigue, leading to sleepiness while at work or when driving
  • Irritability, depression and mood swings
  • Headaches in the morning
  • A sore throat or dry mouth when you wake up
  • Difficulty staying asleep

If you feel unsure as to whether or not you suffer from sleep apnea, most dentists and general practitioners will recommend a sleep study. This will involve either spending a night at a sleep center, while doctors observe your vital signs and sleep patterns, or taking a unit home and wearing it while you sleep in your own bed. The unit will record the same information as the medical personnel at the sleep center, without having the results tainted if the patient has trouble sleeping in a different bed.

Treating Sleep Apnea

Once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you have several options for treatment. A change in your lifestyle will often do the trick. Eating healthy, quitting smoking, and losing weight will reduce your risk for sleep apnea. Avoiding alcohol consumption before bed can also help you avoid the condition.

Many doctors will suggest using a breathing apparatus, called a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), to keep the air flowing while you sleep. While effective, many find the mask worn with these machines uncomfortable, and studies show that a large percentage of patients with CPAP machines stop using them after a short period of time.

When all other treatments fail, patients can explore the option of surgery. Weight loss surgeries, surgery to remove tissue from the top of your throat, and surgery that involves moving your forward to open the airway are all possible solutions.

Dr. Hada recommends the use of oral appliances for his patients who suffer from sleep apnea. A tongue retaining device will hold your tongue in the correct position while you sleep, keeping the airway open.

A mandibular advancement device looks like a sports mouth guard, and forces the lower jaw down and slightly forward to keep the airway from collapsing. These devices help you keep breathing correctly while you sleep, so you feel refreshed and ready to face the day when you wake.

Call Us Today

If you would like to learn more about treating sleep apnea, or schedule a sleep test, call our Mission Viejo, CA, dental office today at (949) 951-1067 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Hada.