Common Sleep Apnea Questions

Common Sleep Apnea Questions

Are you drowsy during the day and don’t know why? Or Are you a loud snorer or wake up gasping for air in the middle of the night? If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may be one of more than 12 million people in America affected by sleep apnea. Our sleep apnea specialist, Dr. Brian McDowell, will help you find that good night’s sleep you deserve using a custom-fitted oral appliance for sleep apnea. Read some of the common sleep apnea questions asked by patients from Fitchburg and the surrounding areas.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is when your breathing periodically stops when you sleep, as many as 30 times per hour. Each time your breathing stops in your sleep, the lack of oxygen alerts your brain, temporarily waking you up to restart proper breathing patterns. Due to the time spent awake being brief, many people with sleep apnea do not remember waking up and therefore believe they are getting a good night of sleep when, in fact, they are not. The constant waking up prevents individuals with sleep apnea from achieving deep, restful sleep, resulting in a drowsy feeling during the day.

What Are Some Signs Of Sleep Apnea?

These symptoms can indicate that you may be affected by sleep apnea. Contact our sleep apnea specialist, Brian C. McDowell, DDS, if you notice one or more of these symptoms.

  • Waking up at night short of breath
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Loud snoring at night
  • Snorting or choking sounds during the night
  • Extreme drowsiness throughout the day
  • Headaches upon waking in the morning
  • Falling asleep unintentionally during the day

Is Snoring Normal?

Generally speaking, most people snore to some degree, which is very normal. Suppose snoring gets to the point where it becomes deafening and bothersome to others or is accompanied by interrupted breathing patterns. In that case, this degree of snoring is not considered standard. You may learn more about snoring relief on our “I Can’t Stop Snoring!” page.

Are There Different Types?

Sleep apnea has three main categories. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when soft tissue collapses and obstructs the back of the throat, causing a physical blockage. OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea amongst patients. Less common is central sleep apnea, when breathing stops because the muscles involved aren’t receiving the correct signal from the brain. Furthermore, some individuals suffer from a type of sleep apnea called “mixed” or “complex,” a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea.

What Are Some Risks Of Sleep Apnea?

Studies show obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA is more common in men than women and in older adults (40+) than children and younger adults. However, any person can suffer from sleep apnea regardless of gender or age. Other risk factors include being obese, smoking, drinking, using sedatives, and family history. Central sleep apnea hits most often in individuals with heart or neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors. It is also most common in males.

Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Medical professionals consider sleep apnea a severe medical problem. Left untreated, it may lead to health issues, including high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. The continuous state of fatigue from sleep apnea symptoms may lead to problems at work or school. They could also become a danger when driving or operating heavy machinery. Also, sleep apnea can cause complications with medication or surgery. Furthermore, sedation by anesthesia can be risky, along with lying flat in bed after an operation. If you think you suffer from sleep apnea, inform your family doctor before taking prescribed medication or having surgery.

What Are Treatment Options?

Sleep apnea treatments depend on each case’s severity and type of apnea. Basic therapy can be behavioral. For instance, your dentist may instruct you to lose weight, stop smoking, or sleep on your sides instead of your back. Furthermore, a sleep apnea oral appliance can position the mouth to prevent throat blockage. Surgery may be the best option in the most severe sleep apnea cases.

Schedule A Consultation At Brian McDowell, DDS

Call our team today at 978-252-2049 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Brian McDowell to be evaluated for sleep apnea. With over 30 years of experience, our office has treated patients for sleep apnea from Fitchburg, Lunenburg, Leominster, Westminster, Gardner, and many surrounding areas.

Read our dental news to learn about the relation between obstructive sleep apnea and bruxism, how sleep apnea affects your body, and more. You may also follow us on Facebook for more dental tips!


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