What Is Sleep Apnea…and Are You at Risk?

Sleep apnea affects over 18 million Americans, and if someone has ever told you that you snore, snort, or make choking sounds in your sleep, you might be one of them. The symptoms of sleep apnea are caused when the body tries to breathe, but the airway is closed off and every time this occurs, the brain shocks the body awake to restart the breathing process. However, part of what makes sleep apnea so dangerous is that the time spent awake is so short that most sleep apnea sufferers don’t remember being awake at all, and the constant process of being awakened by lack of oxygen prevents you from getting the deep sleep your brain and body needs.

The Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Although sleep apnea is very common, it is also very serious, meaning that you should make an appointment with us if you exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Loud snoring at night
  • Waking up in the middle of the night with shortness of breath
  • Making snorting or choking sounds while you sleep, which is an indicator that your body is restarting your breathing
  • Waking up in the morning with a headache
  • Feeling sleepy throughout the day, or even falling asleep unintentionally

The Types of Sleep Apnea

You might be surprised to learn that there are different types of sleep apnea: three, to be exact. They are:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or OSA), which occurs when the airway is partially or completely obstructed.
  • Central Sleep Apnea, which is less common and occurs when your brain fails to send the signal that tells your body to breathe.
  • Mixed (or Complex) Sleep Apnea, which is a mix of Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea.

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

Sleep apnea affects more men than women, and is most common in people over 40. Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Frequent Use of Alcohol
  • Frequent Use of Tranquilizers and Sedatives
  • A Family History of Sleep Apnea

Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

In a word, yes. The most noticeable symptom of sleep apnea is a frequent drowsy feeling that can interfere with your ability to live a happy, productive life and impede your ability to drive safely. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, which can cause other serious conditions, like stroke and heart disease.

The dental office of Dr. John Carson is committed to helping sufferers of sleep apnea regain control of their condition and live a healthier, happier lives. Call us or contact us online to easily schedule an appointment at our Tucson office.