Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be one of more than 12 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea.

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, call our Jenison dentists at McMahon Family Dental as soon as possible.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which you stop breathing during sleep, as many as 20 to 30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing.

Since the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don’t remember it, and many believe they are getting a good night’s sleep when, in fact, they are not. Waking up constantly prevents you from achieving deep sleep, which can make you feel drowsy the following day.

What are the signs of sleep apnea?

The following symptoms can indicate sleep apnea. If you notice one or more of these, contact our Jenison dentist office.

  • ​Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Loud snoring at night
  • Waking up at night short of breath
  • Snorting or choking sounds during
    the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
  • Headaches upon waking in the morning
  • Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
  • Extreme drowsiness throughout the day

Take this quiz to see if you may suffer from sleep apnea.

Are there different types of sleep apnea?

There are three categories of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Less common is central sleep apnea (CSA), in which breathing stops because the muscles involved don’t receive the proper signal from the brain. And some people suffer from “mixed” or “complex” sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central.

What are the risk factors for sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in males than females, and more common in older adults (40+) than younger adults and children. However, anyone — regardless of gender or age — can suffer from sleep apnea. Other risk factors include obesity, smoking, drinking, use of sedatives or tranquilizers, and family history. Central sleep apnea strikes most often in people with heart disorders, neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors.

Is sleep apnea dangerous?

Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem and can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke if left untreated. The ongoing state of fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to problems at work or school, as well as danger when driving or operating heavy machinery.

Sleep apnea can also cause complications with medication or surgery. Sedation by anesthesia can be risky, as can lying flat in bed after an operation. If you know or suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, let your family doctor know before taking prescribed medication or having surgery.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Seek sleep apnea treatment immediately if you suspect you have issues breathing at night. We offer an oral appliance for sleep apnea called OPTISLEEP. With OPTISLEEP, you’ll experience a smooth process from the start: digital process, thin design, and greater comfort.

Sleep apnea treatment depends on the severity of each individual case, and the type of apnea. Basic treatment can be behavioral. For example, some patients are instructed to lose weight, stop smoking, or sleep on their sides instead of on their backs. Beyond that, oral devices can be used to position the mouth in such a way that prevents throat blockage. In more severe cases, surgery may be the best option.

What should I do if I suspect I have sleep apnea?

Our dentists may recommend a sleep study to diagnose the precise extent of the problem and prescribe appropriate treatment. Depending on your situation, treatment may involve an oral device our sleep apnea dentists can custom-create for you.

To schedule your appointment with our Jenison sleep apnea dentists, call McMahon Family Dental at (616) 457-2710.