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What Is Sleep Apnea?


Woman covering ears while husband snoresOne of the most common conditions treated at Riverstone Family Dentistry is sleep apnea. Typically, this is caused by weight gain and obesity because they add weight to all areas of your body - including your mouth and throat. When this happens, and your throat and tongue muscles grow more relaxed while you're asleep they cause your airway to become blocked.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea


There are many warning signs that you may be suffering from sleep apnea. One of the most common ones includes loud, frequent snoring. This may be interrupted by silent pauses in your breathing or by choking and gasping sounds. Ultimately, this sleep isn't very refreshing so it'll leave you feeling sleepy or fatigued throughout the day. You may even wake up with a headache in the morning or suffer from nocturia throughout the night (the need to get up and use the bathroom).

Treating Sleep Apnea


There are many circumstances in which sleep apnea is unavoidable, but this disorder is treatable. Many different treatment options exist for those who find that the condition doesn't go away by itself. The most commonly heard of treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), but mouthguards are another great option today.

Sometimes you may also need medication to help you manage sleep apnea's many symptoms. For instance, you may need one that promotes wakefulness to help you combat daily sleepiness. Two of the most commonly used medications here are Provigil (a.k.a. Modafinil) and Nuvigil (a.k.a. Armodafinil).

Besides treating your sleep apnea, it's also important that anyone who smokes stop. This is because smoking will make your sleep apnea worse. It will increase the inflammation and the amount of fluid that's retained in both your throat and your upper airway.

Some of the other things that you'll want to avoid once diagnosed with sleep apnea include sedatives (e.g. alcohol, sleeping pills), especially right before you go to bed. This is because sedatives also have a way of relaxing your throat muscles - something that will interfere with breathing. You can replace these "bad" habits with the "good" habit of regular exercise which is important not only because it'll help you lose any excess weight, but also because it'll help your body consume and use oxygen more efficiently.

Why it's Important to Treat Sleep Apnea


When you don't get treatment for sleep apnea, you may face serious consequences that could shorten your life. These include "minor" things like developing high blood pressure or heart disease to major things like car accidents that happen when you fall asleep at the wheel or having a stroke, heart attack or heart failure due to having irregular heartbeats. It's also possible for sleep apnea to result in ailments like diabetes and depression.

The likelihood that you might die from sleep apnea increase depending on how severe your case is. In 2008 the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort published a follow-up study in which it stated that 42% of those who died from sleep apnea suffered from a severe case of this ailment. This resulted in heart disease, which is what ultimately killed them.

When you need to determine if you're suffering from sleep apnea, give Riverstone Family Dentistry a call at (360) 326-1443.
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