Obstructive sleep apnea is a common health condition. A serious sleep disorder, it causes the airways to become repeatedly blocked during sleep. A limited amount of air reaches the sufferer’s lungs, and breathing stops intermittently. Loud snoring and choking are effects of sleep apnea. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, the person may awaken. Throughout the course of a night, this may happen several times, or in the most severe cases hundreds of times.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Apnea is a momentary halt in breathing that is caused by a tissue collapse in the rear of the throat. When you drift off to sleep, the muscles in the upper airway loosen. If you recline on your back, your tongue may fall backward. This creates a narrow airway and limits the airflow to the lungs. A thinner airway leads to snoring by forcing the tissue in the rear of the throat to vibrate during breathing.
Effects of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
People who live with sleep apnea rise each morning feeling worn out and tired, even if they experienced a full eight hours of sleep. They operate during the day feeling fatigued, unable to concentrate and possibly dosing off at work. Even though they may not be aware they are waking throughout the night, they still suffer the effects of sleep apnea.
Short-term oxygen deprivation can have lasting negative consequences for your body, including:
Treatments for Sleep Apnea
Many people do not get diagnosed and never receive sleep apnea treatment. A doctor who specializes in sleep disorders can diagnose obstructive sleep apnea through a laboratory sleep study or at-home sleep apnea test. Your dentist can also provide sleep apnea treatment such as oral appliance therapy, CPAP, or surgery.