Understanding the Diagnostic Process for Sleep Apnea
There are dozens of sleep disorders that can affect a person’s health and quality of life. One of the most serious sleep disorders is sleep apnea. It occurs when the airway gets blocked during sleep, causing breathing to stop. The brain detects the lack of oxygen and wakes up the patient to restart breathing. If sleep apnea isn’t properly managed, it can increase the risk of serious complications, including heart attack, stroke, and obesity. The good news is that your dentist can help you manage sleep apnea to reduce the risk of complications.
Detecting the Signs and Symptoms
Some of the signs of sleep apnea can be tricky to detect because the patients themselves might not be aware of them. Instead, it’s often the patient’s sleep partner who suggests that he or she might have sleep apnea. One of the main signs is loud, persistent snoring. The sleep partner may also detect repetitive cessations in breathing, perhaps followed by choking sounds or gasping for air. The symptoms that the patient may notice include the following:
- Waking up with a headache and dry mouth
- Feeling excessively sleepy during the day
- Feeling irritated
- Having problems paying attention or focusing on work
Undergoing Diagnostic Tests
You can be referred to a sleep center if you have the symptoms of sleep apnea. You’ll need to do an overnight sleep study, which takes place in a hotel-style room at the clinic. You’ll be connected to numerous electrodes that will monitor your heart, lung, and brain activity, and your breathing patterns, blood oxygen levels, and physical movements. Then, all you’ll need to do is fall asleep in a comfortable bed wearing your own pajamas. You’ll be monitored by a technician the entire time.
John Carson, DDS offers effective, custom-fitted oral appliances for patients with sleep apnea. If you’ve been diagnosed with this serious disorder, call our dental office in Tucson at (520) 514-7203 to discuss your treatment options.