Lesser-Known Dangers of Sleep Apnea

dangers of sleep apneaRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, approximately 22 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Are you one of them? Sleep apnea always has been a serious medical condition that can threaten your overall health, but it could be even more of a health concern these days, as one study has shown a potential link between sleep apnea and a higher risk of severe COVID-19. You may think that wearing a CPAP is your only treatment option if you snore. In this article, Dr. Nancy Hartrick, a sleep apnea dentist in Detroit, explains your options for low maintenance sleep apnea treatment from your dentist.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is one of the most serious and well-known sleep breathing disorders. The spectrum of sleep breathing disorders ranges from mild problems, like light snoring, to severe ailments such as sleep apnea. When you suffer from sleep apnea, it means your breathing becomes shallow, impeded, or stops entirely during sleep. Each of these breathing issues is referred to as an apneic event, during which oxygen levels drop, and the brain sends warning signals to the body to come out of the sleep cycle and resume normal breathing. These interruptions usually last between 10 and 20 seconds, and in an advanced case of sleep apnea, the pauses can occur dozens of times in a single hour. As you can imagine, sleep apnea leads to serious disruptions in sleep.

Sleep apnea puts your health at risk

Living with poor sleep or frequently disrupted sleep has adverse effects on your life, no matter whether the cause is sleep apnea or something else. We’ve told you before about the risks of living with sleep loss, but sleep apnea has its own specific hazards to your health, including elevated susceptibility to several health problems, many of which are chronic and some of which can be systemic and even life-threatening.

These ailments include:

  • Cardiac disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure and/or hypertension
  • Unexplained weight gain, up to and including obesity
  • Depression
  • Memory loss

Studies also have identified a potential link between sleep apnea and an increased risk of certain forms of cancer. It’s not hyperbole to say that if you currently have an undiagnosed or untreated case of sleep apnea, your life could be in jeopardy.

Know the warning signs of sleep apnea

Knowing the risks of sleep apnea, it may surprise you to know that many people suffer from this disorder for years or even their entire lives. Why? Because they never receive proper diagnosis or treatment. This is because the impact of the disorder may go unnoticed, especially for individuals who live alone.

There are two major warning signs of sleep apnea:

  1. Waking up tired on a regular basis, even following a full night of sleep.
  2. Loud snoring, usually identified by the patient’s partner, roommate, or family members.

Are you experiencing either of these? If so, you need to be screened for sleep apnea by a qualified medical professional. Only a sleep specialist can make an official diagnosis of sleep apnea. However, a sleep apnea dentist in Royal Oak has training in airway management that can prove beneficial in a couple of ways. First, a sleep apnea dentist can identify signs of sleep apnea and refer you to a sleep specialist. Second, once you have received a diagnosis for sleep apnea, a sleep apnea dentist can provide treatment that doesn’t involve using a CPAP machine.

Treating Sleep Apnea in Royal Oak

Hartrick Dentistry offers minimally invasive options to treat sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy consists of wearing a specially designed nightguard, which is made from customized impressions of your teeth and mouth. This oral appliance brings your jaws into the proper alignment, helping you keep an open airway throughout the night and preventing the blockages that occur during sleep apnea.

You also may benefit from myofunctional therapy, which entails performing a series of exercises that are designed to re-train the muscles of the mouth and tongue. These simple exercises can be performed in a few minutes per day with minimal discomfort. Myofunctional therapy seeks to attain the ideal resting oral posture, which means that when you are not eating or speaking, your orofacial system remains at rest with the lips closed, teeth closed, and the tongue sitting comfortably against the roof of the mouth.

Other ways to help minimize your risk of sleep apnea are to:

  • Avoid tobacco usage
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
  • Lose weight if you’re overweight
  • Reduce allergens inside your home

Sleep Apnea Treatment in Birmingham, Royal Oak, and Detroit

To find out more about any of our sleep apnea treatment options in Royal Oak, schedule a consultation online or by calling us at (248) 549-0950.

Posted in Sleep Apnea