At our Pasadena dental practice, we strongly believe that educating our patients not only helps us provide effective treatment, it also allows for an earlier diagnosis that can make a significant and positive difference in the lives of our valued patients.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects breathing patterns and leads to symptoms such as choking, snoring, fatigue, and insomnia due to an obstructed airway. This common sleep disorder causes soft tissues to collapse into the airway which then inhibits a person’s ability to breathe normally throughout the night.
When the airway is obstructed and the brain isn’t getting sufficient oxygen, it jolts the body awake in order to restore proper airflow. In fact, living with sleep apnea means that sufferers may be awoken as many as 20 to 30 times per hour in order to restore airflow. This continual temporary wake-sleep cycle prevents sufferers from getting into a deep sleep, resulting in daytime fatigue as well as leading to the development of serious health problems.
Types of Sleep Apnea
It is unknown to many people that there are actually three types of sleep apnea which range from mild to severe. The most common and mildest form of sleep apnea is known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs as a result of an obstructed airway. Airway blockage can occur for a variety of reasons such as enlarged soft tissue, a large neck, relaxed muscles, or even a relaxed tongue which falls into the airway. This blockage limits the airflow to the lungs, resulting in sleep apnea symptoms.
In contrast to OSA, central sleep apnea (CSA) is a sleep disorder that occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles which help a person breathe. When that signal fails, individuals with central sleep apnea won’t try to breathe. This type of sleep apnea is very serious and is related to the function of the lower brainstem.
The third type of sleep apnea is complex sleep apnea, which is also known as treatment emergent central sleep apnea. This is a combination of both OSA and central sleep apnea.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sleep Apnea
Is Sleep Apnea Really Common?
Sleep apnea is becoming more and more common over time, which is why it’s becoming crucial to knowing how to treat it. Nearly five to 10% of adults in the US have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). That’s nearly 22 million people, and the majority of these sufferers have yet to be diagnosed.
What Causes Obstructed Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused at night when the soft tissue in the back of your throat, or tongue, collapse and blocks your breathing airway. Your inability to breathe will trigger your brain to awaken you so your passageway reopens. These episodes can repeat throughout the night up to 30 times or more every air.
What Should I Do If I Suspect I Have Sleep Apnea?
If you think you or your partner is living with undiagnosed sleep apnea, getting an official diagnosis is extremely important. At our Pasadena dental office, Dr. Guinn works with local health professionals to administer a sleep study that can officially diagnose your disorder.