A common reason for snoring, obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can contribute to significant health issues if left untreated. Caused by collapsed soft tissue in your throat, your breathing during sleep stops, forcing you to wake and interrupting regenerative parts of the sleep cycle. The Nightlase procedure helps firm up the soft tissue
The team at Global Facial Aesthetics in River Forest, Illinois, are sleep apnea treatment specialists, a role that some people don’t associate with dental practices. Dr. Alder was part of the sleep disorders team that researched the original oral devices to help alleviate mild to moderate sleep apnea. Our team can partner with you through the conservative stages of treatment to help restore effective nighttime breathing. When you understand the dangers of sleep apnea, you’ll know that it is not a medical problem that can be put off.
Sleep apnea basics
There are two types of sleep apnea, as well as a third condition that combines the two.
Central sleep apnea is comparatively rare, and it occurs when the central nervous system fails to control nighttime breathing properly.
Obstructive sleep apnea is far more common. It’s a physical problem created by the collapse of tissue in the throat and soft palate. That collapse narrows the airways through the throat, which increases the airspeed through the narrowed sections.
Increased airspeed causes soft tissue to vibrate, creating the characteristic sounds of snoring. The snoring is not necessarily a problem but disrupts the sleep of others. Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue collapse becomes so severe that breathing stops completely.
When your breathing stops, your brain detects it and sends signals to rouse you enough to move and restart breathing. You may not be aware of this waking, which can happen dozens of times a night. But it may be a reason why you feel tired even when the clock tells you that you had plenty of sleep.
Risk factors for sleep apnea
In some cases, there’s little you can do about the reasons for sleep apnea. Family history and the anatomy of your neck could contribute.
Other factors may stem from lifestyle choices. For example, weight challenges can lead to fat deposits in the throat that add to the soft tissue, complicating the problem of narrowed airways. Other potential sleep apnea risks include:
- Gender: men are more likely to develop sleep apnea
- Age: sleep apnea frequency increases as you get older
- Alcohol use: muscle relaxant properties of alcohol encourage soft tissue collapse
- Medications: sedatives and tranquilizers cause similar issues as alcohol
- Tobacco use: smoking makes you three times more likely to develop sleep apnea
People with chronic nasal problems may be more likely to develop sleep apnea, too.
Daytime fatigue is perhaps the most immediate and obvious problem caused by sleep apnea, and it can contribute to concentration and mood issues.
Breathing interruptions can also cause blood oxygen levels to drop. Your body compensates by raising blood pressure, which can strain your heart.
Sleep apnea is both a cause and an effect of type 2 diabetes, which is also part of metabolic syndrome — a collection of conditions that often leads to heart disease. Liver function could also be at risk, and you may have complications with anesthesia when you need surgery.
Contact Global Facial Aesthetics to explore solutions for your sleep apnea. You can reach the office by phone or online. Schedule your consultation now, and sleep easier soon.