11 Things to Know About Sleep Apnea

11 Things to Know About Sleep Apnea

by | Dec 22, 2022

#1: There are CPAP Alternatives

For many years, the treatment of choice for sleep apnea was a CPAP—continuous positive airway pressure—machine. With CPAP therapy, patients strap a mask around their heads and over their mouths and nose, delivering constant mild air pressure while sleeping. However, many patients fail to use the CPAP machine nightly because it is bulky, uncomfortable, and noisy. Fortunately, there are CPAP alternatives for patients in Fitchburg to depend on to help them get a whole night’s sleep.

#2 Dental Sleep Appliances Do Work

Dr. McDowell can prescribe a custom oral sleep appliance. A comfortable oral appliance slightly shifts your lower jaw forward and helps to maintain an open airway that does not become blocked. Another solution for sleep apnea is a tongue-stabilizing sleep device. This device is a simple splint worn while you sleep to prevent your tongue from blocking the airway. Furthermore, this type of treatment has been proven effective in snoring cessation.

#3: Sleep Apnea & Acid Reflux could be Related

Eighty percent of people diagnosed with acid reflux report heartburn occurring primarily at night. What happens when patients lie down to sleep at night? You guessed it – the stomach acids flow backward.

#4 There are Links between Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Do you know someone who snores? Snoring may disturb the sleep of the snorer and the people closest to them. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) only affects about half of all snorers, while the other half are considered primary snorers. Therefore, frequent, and loud snoring is not always an indication of Obstructive Sleep Apnea; however, many patients with OSA have a chronic snoring problem.

Snoring Disorder Causes

Snoring occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes and partially blocks your airway—resulting in the soft tissues vibrating as you sleep. Some causes of snoring include a patient’s genetic predisposition, anatomy, and behavioral factors such as weight gain, alcohol consumption, and sleep position.

#5 A Consultation Could Save Your Life

One of the first indicators of OSA is loud, frequent snoring. People with OSA could stop breathing for a few seconds to a minute or more. You should seek OSA treatment if you experience habitual loud snoring, gasp, or choke during sleep, or stop breathing. Additionally, seek treatment if you experience excessive restlessness at night or feel fatigued during the day.

#6 The Health Risks of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea that is left untreated may affect everyday activities. You may experience chronic headaches, depression, acid reflux, adult-onset asthma, weight gain, and other severe medical conditions. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart Problems (heart failure, irregular heartbeats, heart attacks)
  • Type 2 Diabetes

#7 Sleep Apnea Symptoms

It is often difficult to determine if you are suffering from a sleep disorder because most symptoms occur at nighttime while you are asleep. However, if you notice any of the following, it is crucial to see a sleep apnea specialist like Dr. Brian McDowell in Fitchburg, MA.

  • Loud, frequent snoring
  • Gasping for breath
  • Excessive daytime fatigue
  • Depression and irritability
  • Frequent waking at night

#8 Obesity and Sleep Apnea

Excessive weight gain can cause or worsen Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), especially if the weight is on or around the face. If fact, sleep apnea might be a predictor of obesity. If your BMI places you in the “obese” range, or if you have any sleep apnea symptoms, schedule a consultation with Dr. Brian McDowell, a sleep apnea specialist.

#9 Sleep Apnea Can Have Many Complications

A few sleep apnea complications include:

  • Hypertension and heart disease
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Surgery complications
  • Liver consequences
  • Unhappy sleep partners
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Memory issues
  • Impotence

#10: Sleep Apnea and High Blood Pressure

Sleep apnea studies have shown that patients with sleep apnea have a higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure in the future.

There are two types of sleep apnea; obstructed sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. The most common being obstructive sleep apnea. Both types of sleep apnea cause sleep disruption throughout the night.

Frequent awakenings during the night can cause changes in the hormonal systems, which sometimes result in high blood pressure levels. Another contributing factor to hypertension is the frequent cutoff of oxygen, resulting in low blood-oxygen levels.

#11: Schedule A Sleep Apnea Consultation

Contact our team at (978) 343-4031 to schedule a personalized consultation to be evaluated for Sleep Apnea, Snoring, and TMJ/ TMD. With over 30 years of experience, Dr. Brian McDowell continues to care for sleep apnea patients from Fitchburg, Leominster, Gardner, Lunenburg, and many surrounding areas.

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