Springtime is a great time here in the Midwest. With warmer weather firmly taking hold here in Birmingham, it’s as much of a time to begin enjoying outdoor activities as it is to tussle with the allergies which come along for the ride.
The blooming season can really mess with your sinuses, and can make sleeping and breathing easy at night extremely difficult.
However, pollen-induced snoring is one thing; sleep apnea is quite another. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, because this condition will follow you every time you rest your head upon the pillow.
Today, I want to talk with you about sleep apnea: What it is, why it’s so dangerous – and how your Birmingham dentist can help you beat it.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
A lot of the symptoms of sleep apnea can be similar to a sinus headache, particularly the pain in your face, the sense of fatigue, and the headache itself – but just what is sleep apnea, anyway?
Simply put, sleep apnea is a condition in which the muscles and tissues in your nasal cavity and other airways block the passage of air to your lungs. As you can probably guess, this can cause interruptions or outright cessation of breathing during sleep – or in other words, it can induce a kind of “choking” effect where you are literally fighting to breathe as your sleep.
A number of different factors can contribute to this most common form of sleep apnea (called “obstructive sleep apnea”), including obesity, smoking, and even allergies. All of these and more will conspire to relax the muscles in your throat and your nasal cavity, reducing or effectively blocking air from getting to your brain.
The result? Repeated interruptions in your breathing, occurring from as little as 5 up to 30 times in the course of one night, which will reduce the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, increase your chance for stroke and brain damage, and in extreme cases, even death.
It’s a scary proposition, and it’s one that many sufferers of sleep apnea don’t even know they are facing. In a great many cases, the patient was initially informed by their poor partner, who has had to endure the symptomatic snoring which comes with sleep apnea. With their own sleep disturbed, these equally sleep deprived partners usually wind up setting the ball rolling for the patient to take their next step.
How Do You Know If You Have Sleep Apnea?
If you’ve been told you’re sawing enough logs in your sleep to build a cabin, it’s a start, but it’s certainly not a finish. The problem will continue to worsen.
Armed with your suspicion, you must make an appointment with me to schedule a sleep test so that we can know for certain if sleep apnea is the cause of your restless nights.
If the results of that test reveal that you a suffering from a form of sleep apnea, then we can begin the sleep apnea treatment process, which can take a few different forms.
How Can You Treat Sleep Apnea?
Extreme, life-threatening cases of sleep apnea are pretty rare, and unless your sleep apnea has progressed to a dangerous point already, oral surgery is likely not the route you will need to take to get treatment.
Rather, the vast majority of patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea benefit from what is known as a CPAP machine. A CPAP machine is a device which pumps a continuous flow of air into your airways via an oxygen mask that you wear as you sleep. As you might imagine, this kind of device can take a little getting, used to, to say the least, but a noisy machine and a plastic mask are a small price to pay for sleeping soundly and safely once again.
The other option is a custom-crafted mouthguard that is designed based on the shape and contours of your smile, as well as the underlying airway blockage. In other words, the mouthguard will offset your jaw’s natural resting place so that your airways re-open and stay open, allowing you to sleep easy again but without the need of a cumbersome CPAP device.
Schedule A Sleep Test Today
I can help you to take the first and the last steps in your battle with sleep apnea – all you have to do is make your appointment.
Luckily, I make this process extremely easy. You can either reach out to me at (248) 972-8720, or you can request your appointment online by filling out a quick questionnaire.