The Potential Consequences of Untreated Sleep Apnea

Before we wrap up this mini-series on sleep apnea, we thought it would be a good idea to go back and briefly review what we’ve shared over the past several weeks. You can, of course and always, go back and read any of our previously posted articles relating to sleep apnea or other health and wellness concerns that we have covered.

Sleep apnea is a common and progressive sleep disorder that is affecting millions of Americans. Sleep apnea is a momentary cessation of breathing while one is asleep. These cessations can range in frequency and length. There are two main types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA); some people suffer from both types. OSA is caused by an obstruction in the airway. Central sleep apnea is caused by a miscommunication between the brain and the respiratory system. OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea.

Symptoms and causes will vary between individuals and also depends upon the specific type of sleep apnea one is diagnosed. Common symptoms may include excessive and disruptive snoring, abruptly waking with shortness of breath, daytime drowsiness, morning headaches, and irregular changes in mood or behavior. Individuals who are overweight and over 40 are at a higher risk of suffering from OSA. Allergies, family history, smoking, and drinking also increases your chances. CSA is often caused by heart failure, obesity, stroke, brain infection, Parkinson’s disease, and or from certain painkillers.

Parker Dentistry is working out the logistics of providing our patients with a more convenient method of diagnosis. We do offer a pre-screening and are equipped and experienced in making oral appliances to help treat sleep apnea, should that be your treatment path. However, in the meantime (we will of course keep you updated on our progress in this department), your general physician needs to complete a physical examination and questionnaire to determine if you need to proceed to taking a polysommogram, which is a test completed at a sleep laboratory. A sleep specialist will then read your results and make a diagnosis. Dr. Steve is highly knowledgeable about sleep apnea and can help answer any of your questions or concerns, as well as provide you with any additional information that you seek in order to start your diagnosis and treatment process. Just ask!

Once diagnosed, there are two main types of treatments. A CPAP device or an oral appliance. Oral appliances are best for mild to moderate causes, or for those who are not comfortable using a CPAP device. Dr. Steve and Dr. Blake can make your custom oral appliance.

For more detailed information regarding types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options, take a quick peak back at the individual articles written for each of these topics on our blog. So, what are the risks of leaving sleep apnea untreated?

The possible risks and consequences of ignoring this sleep disorder include the following:

Heart disease

Increased risk of stroke

Type 2 diabetes

Increased blood pressure

Weight gain

Adult asthma

Acid reflux

Daytime fatigue

Liver problems

Sleep-deprived partners

Don’t wait another day! Don’t have another unrestful sleep! Step one is usually the hardest step; recognizing and admitting that you have an issue. The road to diagnosis and treatment is a fairly easy one that can make a world of a difference in your life and overall health and happiness. Take the first step today! 

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