Sleep apnea in Estero can affect people of any age or body shape. Your chances of having this condition are greater if you fall into certain high risk groups. Fortunately, your dentist can recommend a number of treatment options to improve the quality of your rest.
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
- Sleep apnea is most common in middle-aged or older persons. Over time air passageways become narrower and the throat begins to lose some of its muscle tone. This can make both snoring and sleep apnea more likely.
- Excess weight or poor physical condition. For example, fatty tissue around the neck or throat can cause airway collapse during sleep.
- Alcohol, tobacco or illicit drug use. Not only can these products irritate your airways, some of them can depress your muscular coordination and control, making apnea more likely.
- Improper sleep posture. Sleeping on your back can cause the lining of your throat to partially collapse and make breathing difficult. Switching to a different position can usually resolve this problem.
- Men are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than women. This is due to anatomical differences such as narrower throat passages.
- Sinus problems. A stuffy nose may be more than an annoyance. It can also create airway obstructions.
- Certain prescription medications. For example diazepam (also known as Valium) can force the muscles in your throat to relax during sleep.
Signs of Sleep Apnea
Make an appointment with your dentist or doctor right away if you or your partner notice any of these problems:
- Loud, heavy snoring accompanied by daytime fatigue.
- Grunting, choking or gasping during sleep.
- Taking daytime stimulants or drinking caffeinated beverages in an attempt to stay awake.
- Persistent dry mouth. This is an indication of mouth or throat inflammation, which may be related to sleep apnea.
- Waking frequently throughout the night. When a person suffers from sleep apnea, he or she may wake dozens or even hundreds of times before falling back asleep.
What you do if you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea but have no one in your room with you at night? One idea is to set up a web cam or smart phone to record yourself at rest.
When Snoring Is a Warning Sign
Snoring is a common warning sign of sleep apnea. But it can also indicate other problems. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Closed mouth snoring is often caused by the position of your tongue while you sleep. A customized mouthguard from your dentist may relieve the problem.
- Open mouth snoring is a potential warning sign of throat issues, including obstructive sleep apnea.
- Snoring that occurs only when you’re lying on your back indicates a problem with your sleep position. Switching to a side or stomach sleeping position may resolve the issue.
- If snoring continues in all sleep positions, then this is an indication that the problem may require professional help.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can lead to long-term health problems if left untreated. So see your dentist in Estero if you suspect you suffer from this problem. You’ll soon be sleeping like a baby once more.
About the Author
Dr. Lacey Gilbert is an honors graduate of the University of Florida College of Dentistry. She and her staff use only the latest technology and techniques to provide state-of-the-art dental care to their patients. You can reach the office online or by calling (239) 948-2111.