Snoring is one of the most common signs of a serious health condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While many people dismiss snoring as something common and comical, it should not be easily overlooked as the sign of something far more threatening to your health.
It is a common condition that affects nearly 22 million American adults, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association, with approximately 80 percent of these cases going undiagnosed.
The problem is that many individuals don’t even realize they are experiencing sleep apnea symptoms because they are asleep at the time. Your most reliable initial source of clues that you might have OSA is your partner.
Sleep Apnea Risks
Many people fail to understand how serious the condition may be. Left untreated, sleep apnea can be a major contributing factor to many serious health conditions, including:
- Heart Attacks
- Heart Failure
- High Blood Pressure
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Worsening of ADHD Symptoms
Other results of untreated apnea can involve chronic sleep deprivation, excessive fatigue, loss of productivity, falling asleep at work, mood swings, weight gain, irritability, dry mouth, and an inability to stay awake for things that are important to you. Most people with this chronic condition frequently complain about waking up tired even after a full night’s sleep.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms to be Aware Of
Your partner can let you know whether or not you’re snoring at night and the quality of your snoring. This includes things like the volume, frequency, and nature of the snores. Your partner may notice that you frequently seem to be gasping for air and you may even appear to stop breathing for several long seconds.
While it can strike anyone at any age, it is quite common among men over the age of 40 and those who are overweight or obese.
Diagnosing and Treating OSA
A sleep study is required to definitively diagnose OSA. This can be conducted in a lab or through an in home sleep test (in some circumstances – it is up to your physician to decide which is the better choice for your situation). Once OSA is confirmed there are many options available to improve the condition including the use of oral appliances.
Oral appliance therapy involves wearing a specific oral device while you sleep. This helps to position your mouth in a manner that keeps your airways open as you sleep. This helps you get the oxygen you need, relieves the snoring, and enables you to finally get a great night’s sleep. Oral appliances are safe, comfortable, quiet, easy to wear, and convenient for traveling.
If you suspect that you might have obstructive sleep apnea, let us help you at Smile On Dental Salon and Sleep Apnea Center in Lakeview, Chicago. Let us help you. Schedule an OSA exam with Dr. McDonald or Dr. Poncza. Our specialized OSA program can provide you with up-to-date information on treating OSA with Oral Appliances and help you better understand and treat the condition.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.