Should I worry that I snore… a lot?
If you snore, you are certainly not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 90 million American adults snore, 37 million of them on a regular basis. Most of the time, lifestyle choices and personal factors cause snoring. These lifestyle and personal choices consist of alcohol consumption, medication, an illness that causes congestion, sleeping on your back, smoking, or obesity.
But for some people, snoring is a chronic problem and might be an indicator of a serious health condition. If you snore loudly, you may suffer from a sleep disorder called sleep apnea.
Dr. William Harper is Board Certified in Dental Sleep Medicine and offers sleep apnea treatment to his patients from Chesapeake, VA. We encourage you to schedule an appointment with him if you are suffering from any combination of the following symptoms:
- Loud snoring (typically noticed by a sleep partner)
- Gasping, snorting, or choking while sleeping
- Daytime sleepiness and the tendency to fall asleep while reading, watching television or driving
- Dry mouth in the morning
- Morning headaches
- Problems with concentration, mood, and mental clarity during the day
- Feeling unrested even though you slept a sufficient amount of hours
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that you should not ignore. If a person is suffering from this, they will actually stop breathing while asleep. The most common type is Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA for short. OSA occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax, causing the airway to collapse or close during sleep.
The person will be unable to take in enough air, essentially lowering the amount of oxygen they need. The brain is able to sense that they are not breathing and will signal them to wake up to reopen their airway. This is often so brief that they do not know they are awakening. These episodes of the airway closing and reopening can happen many times during sleep sometimes up to 30 times per hour.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
There are many factors that increase your risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea:
- Being male
- Being over the age of 40
- Obesity or overweight
- Have a large neck circumference
- Family history of OSA
- Narrow airway or small lower jaw
- Constant nasal congestion
Diagnosing and Treating Sleep Apnea
Diagnosing sleep apnea will typically involve Dr. Harper as well as your physician and/or other specialists. The medical team may use diagnostic imaging such as x-rays to examine the airway and look for signs of blockage. Dr. Harper will also recommend a sleep study to evaluate the quality of sleep. Coastal Sleep & TMJ works with many different physicians in the Chesapeake, VA area and will help you through the entire process.
Once Dr. Harper formally diagnoses you, he will work with your physician to analyze your sleep test results to determine the best treatment for you. He will recommend oral appliance therapy for patients diagnosed with mild to moderate OSA.
There are many types of appliances he can use based on his individual needs. Every oral sleep appliance will help treat your sleep apnea by opening the airway, relaxing the jaw muscles, and allowing you to breathe comfortably throughout the night.