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Sleep apnea is an epidemic worthy of more attention and discussion than most people may realize. This disorder can cause numerous health issues and decrease your ability to enjoy life long-term.

Do you think you might have sleep apnea? You’re not alone.

One in five Americans suffers from sleep apnea with over 70 million people experiencing some kind of sleep disorder, and 90% of people are undiagnosed. This includes 82% of men and 93% of women. Women are at a higher risk of sleep apnea than men once they reach menopause.

Don’t worry though, there is help available!

The first step is to understand the disorder, its risk factors, the impact it may cause, and what the effects are if left untreated. Consider these questions and helpful information when trying to determine if you have sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea and how do I know I might have it?

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by repeated episodes of complete or partial obstruction of the airway during sleep. You may or may not snore. Some signs of sleep apnea include waking up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, having a hard time falling or staying asleep, feeling unrefreshed despite getting a good night’s sleep, having someone witness you stop breathing, depression, headaches, mood swings, and weight gain to name a few.

What are the risk factors associated with sleep apnea?

There are many risk factors associated with sleep apnea, and some might surprise you. Obesity is at the top of the list, along with a large neck circumference. However certain medications, enlarged tonsils, smoking, hypothyroidism, and polycystic ovarian syndrome are also risk factors.

What is the impact of untreated obstructive sleep apnea?

Sleep disorders are costly. Out of the greater than 100,000 annual motor vehicle accidents, which are the third leading cause of death and injury in the United States, 20% of them are related to sleep, and cost $50-$100 billion annually. They also lead to workplace accidents, which cost $6.5 billion per year, and comorbid diseases, costing $30 billion per year, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and depression. Sleep apnea contributes to memory loss, psychiatric changes, and behavioral issues, and decreases the quality of life. It can contribute to weight gain, increased blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers.

What can I do to help myself?

  1. Maintain a healthy weight: When we gain weight, it doesn’t just affect our stomach. Weight gain can affect our throat, which increases the likelihood of sleep and snoring issues, and breathing capabilities.
  2. Exercise More: We all know that frequent movement helps us feel better. This could range from walking to even joining a gym. 30 minutes a day is the recommended time frame to start with.
  3. Avoid the bad, introduce the good: Quitting smoking, excessive alcohol, and/or using sedatives or sleep aides all contribute to problems with the quality of sleep or sleep disorders.

If you believe you could have sleep apnea, start by researching sleep services that are available to you.

Did you know your dentist can help?

If a CPAP is not the route for you, the dentist can provide an alternative option.

Custom-made dental sleep devices can be worn during the night to assist with opening airways and allowing your body to get the oxygen it needs for restful sleep.

In addition, treatments like Nightlase, a non-surgical laser therapy treatment, can assist in opening your airway. This sleep service is a non-invasive laser therapy that naturally assists your body in producing collagen in the back of the throat and tightening the tissues to decrease snoring. The result is a clearer pathway for oxygen so you can breathe better during the night AND during the day, allowing you to be less tired and more alert.

What are the benefits? No anesthetic required, safe and painless, long-lasting solution, perfect for continued snoring and sleep apnea sufferers.

What is the outcome for those who treat sleep apnea?

A good night’s sleep is essential for the body’s rest and recovery, energy, and helping natural defenses. Sleep is the key to good long-term health.

Remaining undiagnosed can be detrimental for yourself and those around you, so it is good to be aware of what sleep services are available once you have received this diagnosis from your medical doctor. This health condition requires the same attention, care, and consideration that many other health conditions require.

If you are suffering or you know someone who is suffering from a sleep-breathing disorder, we encourage you to get evaluated by a doctor and examine all options available.

Contact us to find out more information!