Sleep apnea is an extremely dangerous condition to have, and unfortunately, it's one that often goes unnoticed and therefore untreated. If you've been told that you're an extremely loud snorer in the past, you might have sleep apnea. Here's what you need to know about this condition and how you can get help for it.
It Isn't Simple Snoring
Snoring happens when you sleep and a part of your throat vibrates. When air passes through the space that's vibrating, it creates the noise that people recognize as snoring. However, this isn't what causes noise with sleep apnea.
What Happens With Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea isn't simple vibrations; it's the partial or complete closure of the airway. This is because when certain people go to sleep, their airway simply collapses as the muscles that usually support it relax. It's more likely to happen to people who are carrying extra weight, as the weight in the throat can push down on the airway, helping to shut it off.
The Potential Danger
You might think that you would wake up and start breathing again normally with sleep apnea, but sometimes that's not the case. Sleep apnea can cut you off from getting the vital oxygen that you need in the night. While you might wake up, clear your throat, and start breathing again in the middle of the night, as soon as your body relaxes the whole process will start all over again.
In severe cases, oxygen deprivation can cause brain damage. It's also been shown that sleep apnea increases your risk of heart attack and cardiovascular problems. As you can imagine, treating sleep apnea and controlling it is vital if you want to live a long, healthy life.
Diagnosing sleep apnea is a fairly simple process. You'll see your general physician, get a referral to a sleep lab, and be tested while you sleep. A doctor or technician will monitor your vitals to ensure that you're safe, but to also make note of any time that your airway becomes closed off while you're asleep.
If it turns out that you have sleep apnea, your dentist can actually be of help. Dentists specialize in making oral appliances that are designed to help pull the lower jaw forward. This creates tension in the airway and keeps it open while you're asleep, ensuring that you have ample oxygen while you rest.
Sleep apnea should never be ignored, and anyone who is told that they snore loudly should check and make sure that it's not something more serious. Contact a company like Jerry C Hu DDS Family Dentistry LLC to learn more about different ways to address sleep apnea.