August 7, 2017
The coroner’s report for actress Carrie Fisher listed sleep apnea as a contributing factor in her death, shedding light on this extremely common — but often misunderstood — disease. Indeed, sleep apnea is believed to afflict as many as 22 million Americans. Yet an estimated 80% of those people are undiagnosed and untreated.
Sleep apnea is dangerous — even deadly. If you live in or around Gillette, WY and believe you or your partner may be affected, call Synergy Dental at (307) 622-1311 to find out about our sleep apnea solutions.
If You Have Sleep Apnea, You Stop Breathing in Your Sleep
There are two types of sleep apnea.
- Central Sleep Apnea is caused by the brain, when it fails to notify your muscles to breathe.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea is much more common and the focus of this article. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a physical obstruction, typically the soft tissue at the back of the throat, blocks the airway during sleep.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may experience as many as 60 “apneas,” or periods of not breathing, per hour! In addition to being extremely dangerous, this causes serious disruptions in sleep and affects how well you are able to function during the day. If you have a partner, they may be losing much-need sleep as well, due to your snoring and restlessness at night.
Am I at Risk for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can affect men, women, and even children. But you may be at higher risk if:
- You are overweight. An obese person is four times more likely than an average-weight person to suffer from sleep apnea.
- You are an older man. Men are twice as likely as women to have sleep apnea, and the risk increases with age.
- You drink alcohol, smoke, or use sedatives or tranquilizers.
- You have a thick neck circumference or narrow airway.
- You have a history of sleep apnea in your family.
How Do I Know I Have Sleep Apnea
They only way to know for sure whether you have sleep apnea is to get a diagnosis from your doctor. But if you have some of the following symptoms, it is a good idea to get checked out:
- You wake frequently at night, sometimes with a choking sensation
- You snore loudly
- You often have a sore or dry throat in the morning
- You experience daytime fatigue and get sleepy while driving
- You tend to be forgetful or moody
- You suffer insomnia
Why Is It Important to Get Treated for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea causes many problems, both in your day-to-day life and for your long-term health. If you have sleep apnea and get treatment, you should notice a significant improvement in your quality of life. And, you increase your chances for a longer life. The consequences of untreated sleep apnea are severe.
- Sleep apnea causes daytime fatigue and an inability to focus, not good things while on the road. Sufferers are six times more likely to die in a car accident.
- Sleep apnea also contributes to many accidents involving heavy machinery.
- Sleep apnea is associated with a host of other medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimates that about 38,000 deaths occur each year from sleep-apnea-related cardiovascular disease.
How Can You Help My Sleep Apnea?
At Synergy Dental Center, we have solutions to treat your sleep apnea and get you breathing continuously through the night. A CPAP machine pumps air directly into your lungs at night. While effective, it can be intrusive and tough to get used to. We can also craft an oral appliance that comfortably fits in your mouth and keeps your airway open during sleep. These two solutions can be used independently or together, depending on your needs.
Treat your sleep apnea, and you will sleep better, sleep more safely, and notice a marked improvement in your ability to focus and function.