Do you awake abruptly during the night? Is your mouth dry or your throat sore when you wake up? Do you have a hard time sleeping? If you answered, “yes” to these questions, you could have sleep apnea. To learn more about what sleep apnea is and who it affects, read on to learn some of the most common signs and symptoms.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea, in brief, is when you stop breathing during sleep. The cases vary from mild to severe, depending on how often your lungs aren’t getting the air they need. Sleep apnea can be caused by blocked airways or by a disconnect in how the brain signals sleep muscles. In some cases, it’s caused by a combination of the two. However, obstructed sleep apnea is the most common.
In every case, people who suffer from sleep apnea stop breathing for up to a minute, several hundred times during the night. This can wake you up, but most often it won’t bring you all the way to wakefulness, even though it will disturb your sleep.
Essentially, while you sleep, the tongue gets tucked back against the throat, stopping airflow. The oxygen levels in the brain decrease, you waken, your tongue stops obstructing your breathing, and you begin breathing again.
Who Can Be Affected By Sleep Apnea?
Although anyone can be affected by sleep apnea, men tend to be more affected by it than women. Hispanic men and African American men are affected more than men of other races.
What Are the Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea affects more than 18 million individuals, so it’s important to know what the signs and symptoms are so that you can get it tested and treated if you have it. Letting it go can lead to weight gain, headaches and memory problems. It can also cause have serious consequences, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, depression, diabetes and even death.
So what do you look for? A loved one, such as a spouse or partner, whom you sleep beside often might notice some of the following symptoms:
- Very loud snoring, to the point they want to leave the room
- That you’re not breathing during the night
- Spells of choking or gasping at night
- Restless tossing and turning
- Decreased interest in sex
- Frequent awakenings of which you’re not aware
- Abnormal breathing during sleep
- Behavior changes
- Waking to use the bathroom (frequently)
- Teeth grinding
Snoring is one of the top indicators of sleep apnea, but not everyone who snores has it. If your partner frequently comments on your chronic snoring or mentions that it seemed like you’re not breathing at night, it’s worth considering.
There are many signs and symptoms of sleep apnea that you might be aware of, even if no one else is. Consider these questions:
- Are you exhausted all day, even after several hours in bed?
- Are you frequently irritable?
- Do you suffer from depression
- Are you overweight or obese?
- Do you wake with a headache?
- Is your throat sore or dry when you wake up in the morning?
- Do you have high blood pressure?
- Do you have trouble thinking clearly during the day?
- Do you suffer from impotence?
- Are you experiencing heartburn at night?
- Have you been having memory problems?
- Do you wake up often to use the bathroom?
- Do you suffer from insomnia?
- Are you constantly fighting sleepiness during the day?
If these sound familiar, it’s time to get tested for sleep apnea. There are some several treatment options, including surgical solutions that can help.
Children can also be affected by sleep apnea. If your child is snoring loudly and continuously, look for other signs, including odd sleeping positions, night terrors, excessive perspiration, or bedwetting. In the event that these symptoms occur frequently, surgery can help. Children can have adenoids or tonsils removed, which generally solves the problem. Other symptoms kids suffering from sleep apnea commonly exhibit include:
- A drop in school performance
- Bad grades in school
- Behaving angrily or hostile
- Breathing through their mouths during the day
These signs can range from the very mild to the very severe, but should always be looked into. Even if it’s not sleep apnea, something else could be causing the problem.
Get tested! To determine if you have sleep apnea, Dr. Jamali will examine the maxillofacial region to see if you have an obstruction and how severe it is. You might also undergo a sleep study to determine the severity of your condition and assess your oxygen levels.
What Treatments Are Available?
Depending on the severity of your case, many treatment options could be available. Generally, you’ll start by using a CPAP machine, which delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to prevent that break in breathing and the wakening gasp that accompanies. This can provide a more restful sleep and solve the problem.
A procedure with a laser can also be performed that tightens the palate and prevents it from blocking the airways.
In serious cases, it could be necessary for Dr. Jamali to perform cosmetic surgery, repositioning your upper and lower jaw and increasing the airway. Not only will those allow you to breathe normally, but you’ll get a better sleep – and so will your partner.
Sleep apnea isn’t a condition to put off. If the signs and symptoms sound like they could describe you, don’t wait while it gets worse and further disrupts your life. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Jamali today.
Suffering from symptoms of sleep apnea? You should seek medical attention with Dr. Jamali, a maxillofacial surgeon who has the relevant board certifications with almost ten years of experience in cosmetic dentistry. Dr. Jamali is based in New York, and his physical address is 42 Broadway, New York, NY 10004, USA. You can contact Dr. Jamali through 212-480-2777.