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The Ten Most Common Signs of Sleep Apnea

Statistically, more than 22 million Americans are afflicted with sleep apnea, and this number doesn’t include the more severe cases. Sleep apnea disrupts sleep because those who have it involuntarily stop breathing when they’re sleeping. If the condition isn’t treated, it can have severe consequences. Read on to learn more about sleep apnea, its causes, and how to diagnose and treat it.

Is All Sleep Apnea The Same?

There are three types of sleep apnea:

  1. Central sleep apnea, or CSA: This usually occurs due to trauma to the brain stem or due to a disease such as Parkinson’s.
  2. Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA: This is the most common type of sleep apnea and is caused by a complete or partial blockage of the airway. Usually, the blockage is due to throat muscles that are too relaxed. This forces your chest muscles to work harder to ensure your lungs receive enough air. Although the pauses are very brief, usually lasting less than ten seconds, they can occur as many as 30 times in an hour, resulting in a significant disruption to your sleep.
  3. Mixed sleep apnea, also called complex sleep apnea, has a combination of the symptoms present in CSA and OSA. Usually, it begins as OSA but continues as CSA after the blockage has been removed. Researchers aren’t sure why complex sleep apnea occurs.

How Do I Know If I’m at Risk for Developing Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can occur to anyone at any age, although male adults are more prone to develop it. Conditions that can contribute to the onset of sleep apnea include:

  • Chronic nasal congestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Male gender
  • Medical conditions such as adenoids, asthma, and narrow airways
  • Obesity or weight gain
  • Smoking

The presence of these conditions doesn’t guarantee that sleep apnea will develop, but if you have any of them and have any signs and symptoms, then schedule an appointment with your dentist.

How Do I Know If I Have the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

There are ten common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. The presence of one or a few doesn’t guarantee that you have it, but it may indicate a problem. The ten signs and symptoms are:

  1. Decreased libido: Sleep apnea changes the chemical balance of your body. The result is often lower levels of testosterone, so that you may experience a drop in libido.
  2. Dry mouth or a raspy throat each morning: Many of those who suffer from sleep apnea sleep with their mouths open because it increases their oxygen intake. However, this can cause them to have a dry mouth and a raspy throat when they wake up.
  3. Gasping or choking: If you suddenly wake up because you’re choking or gasping, it may be due to sleep apnea. Choking and gasping are very common symptoms of sleep apnea, and they occur because your brain senses a significant lack of oxygen.
  4. Headaches when you wake up: Morning headaches can occur due to low oxygen levels as well as sleep deprivation, and morning headaches are a classic sign of sleep apnea.
  5. Hypertension: Sleep apnea creates a chemical imbalance that can elevate the blood pressure. Hypertension is further exacerbated by the lower levels of oxygen that are the result of sleep apnea.
  6. Mental fuzziness: Lack of mental acuity occurs due to a lack of sleep, and it’s a common side effect of sleep apnea.
  7. Moodiness: Research indicates that sleep apnea causes changes in your brain structure and chemistry so that you may be irritable and moody.
  8. Pauses in breathing: If your breathing pauses for several seconds when you’re sleeping, then you may have sleep apnea and need to schedule an appointment with your dentist.
  9. Physical exhaustion: Regardless of the type of sleep apnea that you have, it will deprive you of the sleep that your body needs. You may feel exhausted during the day, even though you think you had enough sleep the night before. Your body will suffer the effects of sleep deprivation even though you don’t remember waking up throughout the night. You may feel perpetually exhausted no matter how much time you spent in bed the previous night.
  10. Snoring: Snoring annoys everyone, but it’s a very common symptom of sleep apnea. Sometimes, snoring occurs when the airway is too narrow or blocked to allow oxygenation of the lungs and body.

What Happens If I Ignore My Sleep Apnea?

You shouldn’t ignore sleep apnea if you have it. Not only can it exacerbate physical conditions such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, but it can also cause other physical health problems. It can also cause dangerously high levels of carbon dioxide to accumulate in your blood. If you think you have sleep apnea, then call your dentist for an appointment.

Will My Dentist Be Able to Treat My Sleep Apnea?

Your local dentist has been trained to diagnose and treat sleep apnea, but you need to be diagnosed before you can be treated. The diagnosis will be determined by a sleep study that can be conducted in your home or in a clinic. There are two common treatments for OSA, and they are as follows:

A continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP machine, that uses a face mask and a machine. When you stop breathing during the night, the machine takes over and forces the air down your airway.

Oral appliance therapy, or OAT therapy, uses a device that looks similar to a mouthguard rather than a mask. The machine works on the same premise as a CPAP machine, but it’s much smaller and doesn’t force air into your airways. Many patients prefer OAT therapy because it’s more convenient and more portable, but your dentist will recommend the best type for your unique needs.

Can I Get Local Treatment for Sleep Apnea?

If you have sleep apnea or if you think you may have it, then call Konikoff Dental Associates at for an appointment. Don’t delay seeking a diagnosis and treatment for your sleep apnea. You’ll be happier and have better physical health if you treat your sleep apnea, so call us today. You’ll be glad you made the call.

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