How to Know if You Have Sleep Apnea
Dr. Mazhari understands that patients often wonder whether the symptoms they experience are caused by sleep apnea, and they are looking to understand more. As a starting point, in terms of a pure definition, sleep apnea is a term that encompasses sleeping disorders in which the person actually stops breathing during sleep. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which blocks the airway, leading to cessation of breathing while asleep.
For some sufferers of sleep apnea, the disorder is accompanied by symptoms such as waking gasping for air in the night to headaches and fatigue the next day. For others, the symptoms may be more elusive.
While a true diagnosis of sleep apnea needs to be undertaken by a medical professional, like Dr. Mazhari, who is a dentist with specialized training in treating sleep apnea, below are some indicators on how you can potentially know if you have sleep apnea, who’s at risk, and why you should never ignore this debilitating sleep disorder that can greatly affect your overall health and quality of life.
Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
There are numerous symptoms of sleep apnea, or OSA, and it’s important to remember that not everyone will experience the same symptoms. The following are some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea:
Snoring is a sign that your airway is obstructed, meaning you’re not getting the proper oxygen you need throughout the night. Snoring could also be a sign that obstructive sleep apnea is present and shouldn’t be ignored. If you or your partner snore, it might be time to seek an evaluation with Dr. Mazhari for OSA.
If you feel tired and groggy during the day, you may not be getting the rest you need at night. When sleep apnea is present, the body will wake itself up many times during the night when breathing is totally obstructed to begin breathing again. You may not remember these instances—but your body does. You’ll feel the effects of constant interruptions during sleep in the form of fatigue.
Some patients will experience headaches in the morning if they have sleep apnea. These headaches are usually the result of decreased oxygen to the brain, which can cause you to experience a headache that ranges from mild to severe. If the cause of your headaches is unexplained and you’re experiencing other symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s time to seek help.
Mental Health Symptoms
As research has shown a link between mental illness and sleep disorders, people who suffer from sleep disorders, and related sleep disruption, are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, mood swings, and cognitive impairment. All of these could be the result of not sleeping well and therefore creating an imbalance of hormones.
People who snore tend to breathe through their mouths at night, making their mouth extremely dry the next day. Dry mouth isn’t just uncomfortable—it’s also damaging to your oral health. Having a dry mouth upsets the balance of bacteria in your oral cavity, making it more likely that your enamel will be worn away. Dry mouth can be the result of many things, so visit your dentist if you’re concerned about this symptom.
Who Is Most at Risk for Sleep Apnea?
People who are most at risk for obstructive sleep apnea include those that are overweight, those who smoke, those who drink—especially in excess—and those who have a naturally narrower airway.
Excess weight, especially around the neck and throat, may contribute to obstructive sleep apnea as the extra tissue can cause partial blockage of your airway. Alcohol can relax the tissues of the throat too much to the point that your airway becomes obstructed.
Having a narrower airway means you could have an increased risk for OSA, as it has the potential to be more easily blocked than a normal airway. In addition, men are more likely to get sleep apnea than women, especially men who have a family history of sleep apnea.
Discussing Your Sleep Apnea Treatment Options with Dr. Mazhari
Ignoring your symptoms of sleep apnea is never a good idea. In addition to causing chronic fatigue, sleep apnea also puts you at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, all due to decreased oxygen levels in the blood.
Obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk for an irregular heartbeat and a higher risk for complications after medical procedures. People who have sleep apnea tend to lose concentration easily and may be more prone to accidents due to their fatigue.
Fortunately, sleep apnea can be treated. Dr. Mazhari can help you attain a proper diagnosis and begin working with you to implement the right treatment today. Contact Alexandria Dental Health & Smile Studio for an appointment—don’t let your sleep apnea go unchecked another night!