There are times in life where we all snore. No one is immune from sawing logs in their sleep, but some of us are using a chainsaw, and using it all night! If you’re a chronic snorer, or sleep next to someone who is, you know how bad it can be. Whether you’re doing the elbowing or getting elbowed snoring disturbs sleep!
Snoring isn’t always just a result of sleeping on your back – it could indicate a more serious condition called sleep apnea. It’s important to know if you’re at risk for sleep apnea because of how many negative effects it can have on your long term health. We treat sleep apnea at our Carmel office, but we also know that identifying it and making the initial diagnosis is the hardest part. If you’re a chronic snorer who falls into some of these other categories you might be suffering from sleep apnea!
What Is Sleep Apnea?
When you snore it’s because there is a slight restriction to your airway. Your muscles and soft tissue all relax when you sleep, and when they do it can cause partial collapse of your windpipe, causing the loud rattling you hear when snoring.
When your airway becomes completely blocked you can simply stop breathing. These interruptions in your breath are known as apneas, and can occur dozens of times a night. Over time sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, daytime fatigue, depression, trouble focusing, mood swings, and even heart disease. It’s an important thing to treat!
Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
If you suffer from any of the following your chances for developing sleep apnea are definitely greater.
- Overweight patients have a much higher rate of developing sleep apnea. Excess fat tissue around the neck and throat can cause constriction and excess pressure on the airway, making collapse much easier.
- A large neck can also increase the risk of developing sleep apnea. Whether muscle or fat the amount of tissue on the airway can be dangerous. If your neck is over 17 inches in circumference (male) or 16 inches in circumference (female) your risks are greatly increased.
- A small neck can also be a risk factor. If you are naturally thin necked or have an overly narrow airway it’s just as much a risk as having a neck that’s too large!
- High blood pressure is a risk factor as well as a result of sleep apnea. In fact, patients suffering from hypertension commonly suffer from sleep apnea, making any diagnosis of it a reason to be screened.
- Diabetics commonly suffer from sleep apnea. If you have either type one or type two diabetes and are a chronically loud snorer it’s not a bad idea to be tested!
- Chronic nasal congestion makes it more common for people to breath through their mouths during the night, and an obstructed airway due to draining mucus only makes matters worse!
- A family history of sleep apnea can be caused by any number of different sleep apnea risk factors. If your family has a history of sleep apnea there’s a good chance you’ve inherited a risk factor or two.
- Smoking causes inflammation of the throat and airway, making it more likely that you’ll suffer from obstruction and sleep apnea.
- Alcohol use relaxes soft tissue and muscles, increasing the risk of airway obstruction.
- Being male is, unfortunately, a serious risk factor. Men develop sleep apnea at a rate nearly two to one of women.
Keep in mind that all of these are simply risk factors. It is just as possible for a thin, healthy person with minimal risk factors to develop it as it is for someone who can check off a variety of items on this list.
Treating Sleep Apnea
If you come to Really Smile Dentistry for sleep apnea treatment we’ll start by prescribing a sleep study. One we know that you’re suffering from sleep apnea the most common and effective treatment is the use of oral appliances. The devices we prescribe will keep your jaw in a comfortable, natural position that will prevent airway collapse and help you sleep better.
Don’t Take Chances With Sleep Apnea
The dangers of sleep apnea are serious, and the treatment can be incredibly simple. Don’t risk your long term health by ignoring the risk factors and symptoms. Contact our Carmel office to find out more today!
You can reach us at 317-451-4050 or you can request an appointment right here online. We look forward to helping you!