Sleep Apnea & Your Health

Do You Suffer From Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a medical disorder that interrupts your breathing overnight, preventing you from getting the quality sleep you need to function. Without treatment, sleep apnea can result in a wide variety of symptoms that impact your mental and physical health. 

Common indications of sleep apnea include: 

  • Loud, disruptive snoring 
  • Gasping or choking sounds while you sleep 
  • Fatigue during the day
  • Sudden mood shifts
  • Memory problems 
  • Waking up with headaches or dry mouth 
  • Decreased libido 

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, call our Silver Spring sleep dentist right away so she can arrange a sleep test to provide you with a definitive diagnosis. Once you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea by your physician, Dr. Bassford can work with you to create a customized treatment plan that suits your needs.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are two main types of sleep apnea. The most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is caused by muscles at the back of your throat blocking the airway while you sleep. This interrupts your flow of oxygen, making you snore loudly and wake up repeatedly throughout the night.

Central sleep apnea is the less common form of the disorder. For patients with this condition, the brain fails to communicate the proper signals to the muscles that control their lungs. Since the underlying cause of the issue is different, central sleep apnea requires a different treatment approach than OSA.

Common Risk Factors For Sleep Apnea

Over time, research has found certain factors that increase your likelihood of developing sleep apnea. The most common include: 

  • Obesity/excess weight 
  • Large neck circumference 
  • Smoking 
  • Drinking alcohol 
  • Nasal congestion 
  • Family history of sleep apnea 

How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Health

Without treatment, sleep apnea can have a severe impact on your overall health. That’s why it’s crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms so you can seek help as soon as possible. The consequences go far beyond fatigue from lack of sleep — untreated sleep apnea has been linked to life-threatening issues including heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes. 

In addition to those physical health consequences, sleep apnea can negatively affect your mental health as well. When you’re not getting the restorative sleep your body needs on a daily basis, you’ll start to feel tired and lack motivation. Eventually, this can result in anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it dangerous to leave sleep apnea untreated?

Yes! Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that leads to many symptoms beyond just snoring and not getting enough sleep. Untreated sleep apnea has been linked to several health consequences, including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and liver problems.

Some of these events can even be fatal in the worst-case scenario, so it’s crucial to get help from an experienced sleep dentist like Dr. Bassford. During your consultation at our Silver Spring practice, she’ll evaluate your symptoms and develop a treatment plan that fits your needs.

How can I reduce my risk of sleep apnea?

When combined with professional treatment, making certain lifestyle changes may be beneficial in reducing sleep apnea symptoms. Some effective natural remedies that Dr. Bassford recommends include:

 

  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Exercise regularly (yoga specifically promotes oxygen flow)
  • Change your sleep position, also referred to as positional therapy
  • Use a humidifier to open your airways
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption, especially before bedtime

Dr. Bassford Can Help

Dr. Alice Bassford is board certified and a diplomate of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. When you visit us for a consultation, she’ll check your airway for signs of sleep apnea and ask you some questions about the quality of sleep you’ve been getting. She’ll also make sure you get the correct diagnosis for your condition and determine the treatment that’s best for you.

Many of our patients find relief using oral appliance therapy. These easy-to-use devices gently reposition the jaw forward, allowing you to breathe freely throughout the night. Our patients tell us that oral appliance therapy is a convenient alternative to CPAP, which can be loud, uncomfortable, and difficult to use.

It’s time to get effective relief for your sleep apnea so you can wake up every morning feeling refreshed and ready to go. Call (301) 593-5500 today to learn more about our sleep apnea care and schedule a consultation with Dr. Bassford — it’s your first step on the road to a healthier life.