Five Things You Need to Know About Sleep Apnea

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According to Dr. Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer of the Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center, nine percent of women and 24 percent of men suffer sleep apnea. She also notes that those numbers are likely higher; the research doesn’t account for today’s higher rates of obesity, nor can it account for the up to 82 percent of cases that go undiagnosed. Is yours one of them? It might be time to visit Smile On Dental Salon and Sleep Apnea Center.

Sleep Apnea Causes

Stereotypically, sleep apnea is a malady that affects older, overweight men. There’s some truth to that, since being overweight can contribute to the airway blockages and constrictions that are the most common underlying cause of sleep apnea. According to the National Institutes of Health, other common causes include neuromuscular conditions, heart failure, premature birth, and endocrine disorders.

But the disorder is also common in postmenopausal women, and can even present in children. Besides age and weight, there are other underlying risk factors for sleep apnea. These include race and family history. Certain lifestyle choices can also add to your problems (see the Treatment section below).

There Are Serious Sleep Apnea Complications

Sleep apnea does more than cause snoring. Besides interrupting your, and your significant other’s, good night’s sleep, it can cause or compound a number of other ills. You’ll be at a higher risk for cancer, asthma, atrial fibrillation, metabolic disorders, heart disease, and complications in pregnancy. What’s more, because it causes inflammation, it also compounds the effects of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other inflammatory disorders.

Sleep Apnea Might Trick You

Sleep is how our brain and body reset after a long day. When your sleep is interrupted, it can do more than just leave you tired and cranky. Lack of sleep can also cause lowered concentration and difficulty in acquiring or retaining new knowledge that can mimic a learning disability. There are other cognitive and behavioral issues that may be caused by your sleep patterns and may not be what you think.

You Should Have a Professional Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

You may have read to this point and had a light bulb moment. You may be wondering if you’ve got sleep apnea because all of this is looking awfully familiar. On the other hand, you may not recognize yourself in any of this, but may just have a vague feeling something’s wrong with your sleep patterns. In either case, don’t assume. A professional diagnosis — often done at a sleep center, but sometimes also administered in the comfort of your own home with an ARES Sleep Apnea Test — is the only way to know for sure.

Sleep Apnea Treatment is Available

There are a number of things you can do to help if you suspect you have sleep apnea. Cut back on, or cease, alcohol consumption. Quit smoking. Don’t sleep on your back. Lose weight. Don’t use electronic devices before bedtime, and don’t take sleeping pills or sedatives to fall asleep.

However, much as you can’t accurately self-diagnose sleep apnea, you also shouldn’t rely on self-treatment. Those steps can help, but are no substitute for professional treatment. Modern CPAP machines are quieter and much more comfortable than the ones available even a few years ago. Other options, from oral appliances to surgical correction, may also be called for depending on your needs and overall medical profile.

If you live in the Chicago area and you’re trying to get back on the road to good sleep and better health, contact Smile On Dental Salon and Sleep Apnea Center.

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