Questions about Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is when your supply of air gets cut off during sleep, forcing your brain to awaken just enough to resume breathing.

Are there different types of sleep apnea?

Yes. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea. In obstructive sleep apnea, your tissues are essentially choking you. In central sleep apnea, your brain stops sending signals out that tell your body to breathe. Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of the other two types.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Because it interferes with sleep that is essential for many of your body’s functions, the symptoms of sleep apnea are numerous. They include:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unexplained weight gain despite dieting and exercise
  • Dry mouth or sore throat in the morning
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Decreased motivation and/or sex drive

Your cosleeper may notice that your snoring suddenly stops in a choking or gasping sound. If you snore and have these symptoms you need to speak to a doctor soon.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

The only way to diagnose sleep apnea is with a sleep test. In the past, these sleep tests, often referred to as polysomnograms, had to be conducted at a sleep center, where you tried to replicate your normal sleep pattern while researchers measured you for apneic events. In recent years, reliable home sleep tests have become available, making it much easier and more convenient to get tested for sleep apnea.

Is sleep apnea dangerous?

Yes. It’s hard to know exactly how dangerous, but evidence continues to accumulate about the deadly consequences of sleep apnea. One study linked sleep apnea with a doubling of risk for serious car accidents. Another identified sleep apnea as potentially the primary risk factor for severe coronary artery disease. Others have pointed to increased surgical risk as a result of sleep apnea. One study attempted to look at the relative risk for sleep apnea sufferers of death from any cause and found that moderate to severe sleep apnea sufferers were six times more likely to die from all causes than the general population.

What are my sleep apnea treatment options?

There are four commonly-used sleep apnea treatment options:

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines
  • Dental appliances
  • Surgery
  • Lifestyle changes

Which treatment option or options are best for you depends on your individual circumstances.

If you would like to learn more about your sleep apnea treatment options, please contact Ascent Dental in the Cherry Creek area of Denver to schedule your consultation.