December 23, 2019
About 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, with a vast majority not even realizing it. This disorder occurs when your breathing is repeatedly interrupted during the night. But just how frequently does this happen? And what can it tell you about the severity of your condition? Read on to learn more about sleep apnea in Irving – and just how often it can strike.
Why is Breathing Interrupted During Sleep Apnea?
The most common reason for sleep apnea to occur is for there to be some kind of obstruction in your airway. For example, your throat muscles and tongue could relax when you fall asleep and fall back on the airway as a result. Other causes might include bone deformities in your jaw or enlarged tonsils. Also, the disorder has been linked to obesity, drinking alcohol before bed, sleeping on your back, and using certain medications.
How Many Times is Breathing Interrupted?
The number of breathing interruptions, called “apneas”, that you experience during the night will vary. Patients who sleep normally will normally have fewer than 5 apneas per hour. If you have mild sleep apnea, you can expect 5 to 14 events each hour, while moderate sleep apnea usually causes about 15 to 29 events per hour. Particularly severe cases of sleep apnea result in 30 or more apneas per hour; that’s potentially hundreds of events every night!
What are the Consequences of Sleep Apnea?
When your breathing is interrupted, your brain is forced to wake the body up to resume the flow of oxygen, preventing you from getting quality sleep. This can leave you feeling exhausted during the day, and you may be at a higher risk for car accidents.
Furthermore, sleep apnea increases your risk for high blood pressure, heart problems, dementia, obesity, and diabetes. The more severe your sleep apnea, the worse these health issues are likely to become.
What Can You Do About Sleep Apnea?
If you’re found to have some form of sleep apnea, you should talk to a sleep dentist right away so that they can devise an appropriate treatment for you. The most common solution for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy, but if you have a hard time tolerating the machine, you might be prescribed an oral appliance instead. The appliance will reposition your jaw so that the soft tissues in the mouth and throat don’t collapse and leave the airway clear. Your sleep dentist might have other suggestions that could help, like changing your sleeping position.
Since you may not even remember having sleep apnea events during the night, it can be difficult to know just how severe the problem is on your own; that said, it’s always important to get help as soon as possible so that you can enjoy a good night’s rest again.
About the Author
Dr. Kent Smith is Sleep Dallas’s founding practitioner and chief medical officer, and he’s been helping patients in Irving suffering from sleep breathing disorders for over 25 years. He’s double board-certified in dental sleep medicine and regularly facilitates national and international seminars and lectures on the subject. To schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (844) 409-4657.