What is Sleep Apnea?

There are three types of sleep apnea, each characterized by a lapse in breathing while you sleep. They’re all part of an overarching disorder called Sleep-Disordered Breathing. The most common type is Obstructive Sleep Apnea. It’s so common that one in five adults experiences mild sleep apnea, and one in fifteen adults experiences moderate to severe sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): A person who doesn’t have sleep apnea has a healthy airway that stays open and clear during sleep, allowing air passage. Though the airway will sag slightly due to relaxed, sleeping muscles, it’s not enough to cause labored breathing. In a person with sleep apnea, the airway sags or collapses too far, making it difficult or impossible for them to breathe. They’ll experience pauses in breathing for at least 10, but it could last much longer. During this time, blood oxygen levels lower, the heart rate increases, and your brain panics. After some time, your brain will awaken you to resume breathing. This can happen hundreds of times per night in someone with severe sleep apnea.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): Central sleep apnea is when a person’s breathing stops during sleep because the brain doesn’t tell the lungs to continue breathing. You’ll still experience lower blood oxygen levels and an increased heart rate before your brain awakens you. This type of sleep apnea is more common in infants and adults over 60—still far less common than OSA. The only foolproof treatment available for CSA is CPAP.

Complex Sleep Apnea: Complex sleep apnea combines OSA and CSA and can be caused by an overdependence on CPAP. This can only be treated with a CPAP.

Snoring is also considered sleep-disordered breathing. The snoring sound comes from air rushing past sagging tissues in your airway, indicating labored breathing and warning signs of sleep apnea.

Luckily, those who experience obstructive sleep apnea have options. Our team of sleep medicine dentists in Austin, TX, can help those with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea get the sleep they deserve and lead happy, healthy lives.

The Link Between Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring is not just an innocuous nighttime sound – it often indicates a deeper issue: obstructive sleep apnea. As mentioned above, snoring is a common occurrence caused by the vibration of relaxed tissues in the throat as air flows past during sleep. While occasional snoring might be harmless, persistent and loud snoring can be an early warning sign of OSA.

Our team is well-versed in understanding the nuanced relationship between snoring and sleep apnea. Whether you’re looking to treat sleep apnea or a case of light snoring, we can help.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sometimes, it’s tough to tell if your sleep is truly as restful as it should be. But your body might be dropping hints that something’s amiss. We want you to be in the know when it comes to recognizing the signs of sleep apnea. Review the symptoms below:

  • Loud and Persistent Snoring: If your or your partner’s snoring is loud enough to wake you up, sleep apnea could be the cause.
  • Pauses in Breathing: If you or your partner notice moments when you seem to stop breathing during sleep, even if just for a few seconds, that’s not something to brush off.
  • Morning Headaches: Waking up with a pounding head? The lack of oxygen from sleep apnea and your body’s inability to perform its nighttime functions could be the cause.
  • Daytime Fatigue: Do you ever feel like no amount of coffee can shake off that tiredness? Do you fall asleep at work? Driving? Watching TV?
  • Irritability: Irritability is a common sign of sleep deprivation and goes hand in hand with sleep apnea.
  • Trouble Concentrating and Remembering: Focusing on tasks becomes hard with sleep deprivation due to sleep apnea.
  • Frequent Nighttime Trips to the Bathroom: Needing to pee often during the night? Your sleep apnea might be to blame for messing with your sleep cycle.

Treat Sleep Apnea and Avoid These Unintended Consequences

If your sleep apnea is mild or moderate, you might be tempted to deal with the symptoms and forgo treatment. But sleep apnea is a dangerous condition, and not seeking, or failing to adhere to treatment has severe consequences.

Even though you’re sleeping, your brain and body have important work to do. Each stage of sleep is important, and sleep apnea doesn’t allow you to spend long enough in each stage of sleep. While sleep is still somewhat mysterious to doctors and researchers, it’s agreed upon that without it, your body can’t produce needed hormones, release proteins, repair cells, and clear toxic chemicals from your brain. For these reasons and more, the following dangers are associated with sleep apnea:

  • Hypertension: Sleep apnea can throw your blood pressure off-kilter, putting you at risk for hypertension, which in turn raises the chances of heart disease and stroke. 43% of people with mild OSA have hypertension.
  • Depression: The constant fatigue and disrupted sleep patterns associated with sleep apnea can take a toll on your mental health, leading to feelings of depression and anxiety.
  • Obesity: Poor sleep can interfere with your body’s hunger-regulating hormones, making you more likely to gain weight and face challenges in managing it.
  • Irregular Heartbeat: Sleep apnea’s oxygen deprivation can lead to an irregular heartbeat, a condition known as arrhythmia, which can pose serious cardiac risks.
  • Disinterest in Hobbies and Family: Fatigue and lack of focus can make you withdraw from activities you love and strain relationships with loved ones.
  • Heart Attack: The combination of oxygen dips and added stress on your cardiovascular system increases the risk of heart attacks. 70% of heart attack patients have mild OSA.
  • Car Accidents: Daytime sleepiness can impair your ability to drive safely, elevating the likelihood of accidents on the road. There are 100K car accidents annually associated with sleep apnea.
  • Stroke: Sleep apnea’s impact on blood vessels and oxygen levels can contribute to the formation of blood clots, raising the risk of strokes by 4x.
  • Early-Onset Dementia: Sleep apnea has been linked to cognitive decline and an increased likelihood of developing dementia at an earlier age.
CPAP alternatives are available for sleep apnea

Take the First Step Toward a Healthier You

Embarking on your path to sleep apnea diagnosis at Barton Oaks Dental Group in Austin, TX, is as simple as essential. While we cannot diagnose sleep apnea, we will guide you toward effective relief once diagnosed.

Begin by arranging an in-lab or at-home sleep test.

We collaborate with SleepTest.com to provide convenient at-home sleep testing. This collaboration ensures that our patients receive a comprehensive evaluation of their sleep patterns without the need to visit a sleep lab. SleepTest.com sends an easy-to-use testing kit directly to your home. Once you’ve completed and returned the test, SleepTest.com’s sleep physicians analyze the data to diagnose whether you have sleep apnea, and if so, determine its severity. Armed with this precise diagnosis, we’ll devise a personalized plan. This seamless process ensures that patients receive the necessary care to improve their sleep quality and overall health.

Once armed with the results, you’re ready to take the next step – visiting our clinic to discuss your personalized plan. Are you ready to sleep soundlessly? Schedule an appointment today.

The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and TMJ Disorder

Sleep apnea and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders often intertwine, creating a unique interplay that can impact your well-being. It’s a two-way street: sleep apnea can trigger or exacerbate TMJ issues, while TMJ problems can contribute to sleep disturbances.

Our dental sleep medicine doctors are proficient in neuromuscular dentistry and can address both concerns to help you live better. Our TMJ and sleep dentist can create a strategy that not only tackles your sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy but also alleviates the underlying TMJ issues. This dual approach ensures that you receive tailored care that considers the connection between these conditions, ultimately guiding you toward improved sleep, comfort, and overall wellness.

Make an Appointment for Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Austin, TX

Are you ready to sleep better and get your life back? Call us at (512) 327-6947 or make an appointment online. We’re looking forward to getting to know you and helping to increase your quality of life.