Are you often tired during the day with no explanation? Do you wake up breathless in the night or snore loudly? These are some of the symptoms experienced by the 12 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?

When a person has sleep apnea, their breathing stops from time to time during sleep, up to 20 to 30 times per hour. When you stop breathing during sleep, the lack of oxygen alerts the brain, which wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Because the time spent awake is very brief, those with sleep apnea often don’t remember it and feel like they are getting a good night’s sleep even though they aren’t. The frequent waking prevents those with sleep apnea from reaching deep sleep, which results in a constant drowsy feeling during the day.

What are the signs of sleep apnea?

If you notice one or more of these symptoms of sleep apnea, please contact McCord Orthodontics:

  • Insomnia
  • Loud snoring
  • Snorting or choking sounds during sleep
  • Headaches upon waking up
  • Unintentionally falling asleep during the day
  • Extreme drowsiness throughout the day

Are there different types of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea comes in three categories. The most common, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), occurs because of a physical blockage, usually from the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is less common. The breathing stops because the muscles do not receive the needed signal from the brain. The third type is “mixed” or “complex” sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.

What are risk factors for sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs more often in males than females and is more common in adults over 40 than in young adults and children. Despite this, anyone can suffer from sleep apnea. There are other risk factors as well, including obesity, smoking, drinking, the use of sedatives or tranquilizers, and family history. Central sleep apnea is also most common in males. It most often affects those with heart disorders, neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors.

Is sleep apnea dangerous?

Sleep apnea is a serious medical problem. It can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke, if it is not treated. The fatigue caused by sleep apnea can cause problems at work or school. This drowsiness can also be dangerous when driving or operating heavy machinery. This disorder can cause issues with medication or surgery; anesthesia sedation can be risky, as can lying flat in bed after having an operation. If you have sleep apnea or if you suspect that you have it, let your doctor know before you take prescribed medicine or have surgery.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Sleep apnea treatment varies, depending on the severity of the case and the type of sleep apnea. Basic treatment may include instructing the patient to lose weight, stop smoking, or sleep on their sides instead of their backs. If basic treatment isn’t sufficient, oral devices may be provided to reposition the mouth so that throat blockage is prevented. In severe cases, surgery may be the best option.

What should I do if I suspect that someone in my family suffers from sleep apnea?

Talk to Dr. McCord and Dr. McCoy, and they can refer you or your family member to a sleep apnea specialist. A sleep study may be recommended to diagnose the extent of the issue and appropriate treatment can then be prescribed. Depending on your individual case, your treatment may include an oral device that our orthodontists custom make for you.

We invite you to contact our office today to learn more about treatments for sleep apnea in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and to schedule an appointment.