What are the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea?

Approximately 10%-30% of all adults snore. Although not everybody who snores necessarily has sleep apnea, snoring is one of the leading indicators. Other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea may include:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue during the day
  • Morning headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus and concentration

Is sleep apnea dangerous?

Sleep apnea means absence of breath. In some patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), there may be more than 100 breathing lapses during a single night. Some periods may last nearly a minute or more. This puts a strain on your heart and lungs and prevents you from getting the deep, satisfying rest you need. When left untreated, sleep apnea is closely linked to several life-threatening medical conditions, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • Depression

What causes sleep apnea?

The primary culprit in OSA is the soft tissue in the back of your throat. As you age, this tissue becomes looser until it actually obstructs your airway at night. The air passing through your pharynx around this tissue causes vibrations, which result in the loud snoring associated with OSA. Other causes may include obesity, anatomic anomalies, or injury to that part of your body.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

Dr. Firouzian will make his preliminary recommendation after an initial new patient experience. He may recommend an initial screening test or suggest a Polysomnography test at a sleep center. Family history is an important factor in diagnosing OSA. While Dr. Firouzian is fully qualified to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea and the screening tools he utilizes are a strong suggestion of the conditions, a complete diagnosis can only be made after a sleep study. If needed, Dr. Firouzian will schedule you for a sleep study to measure the number and length of your periods of sleep apnea.

What are the treatment options for sleep apnea?

There are various treatments that are effective in reducing the symptoms of sleep apnea. Dr. Firouzian will typically try conservative treatments before suggesting invasive procedures. Some of the more conservative treatment options may include:

  • Changes in your diet
  • Exercise
  • Sleeping on your side
  • Quit smoking

Many patients with sleep apnea benefit from custom mouthpieces or oral appliances that maintain your jaw forward slightly to ensure your pharynx remains open all night long.

Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines can be used to assist you with your breathing at night. The air pressure the machine supplies is adjusted to ensure that your airway remains open.

To find more information about sleep apnea and how it is treated, please contact Columbus, Ohio family dentist, Dr. Michael Firouzian at the Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry to schedule an appointment today.