If you have ever shared the bed with someone who snores or are a snorer yourself, you probably know how irritating and frustrating this sleep habit can be. However, in some cases, snoring can be a sign of more than just a nighttime annoyance. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can turn deadly if left untreated and its most common symptom is snoring. However, understanding the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea can help you find and treat this condition and get the best night’s sleep possible. Find out more about sleep apnea with Dr. Steven Wilk at Center for Headache, TMJ, and Sleep Disorders in Denver, CO.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition affecting sleep which causes pauses in breathing. These pauses, known as apneas, can cause the sufferer to snore loudly or wake up gasping to catch their breath. If left untreated, this condition could have severe consequences and even result in death. Most cases of sleep apnea are caused by an obstruction in the airway, referred to as obtrusive sleep apnea or OSA. Central sleep apnea or CSA occurs when the brain fails to send the correct breathing signals to the lungs, resulting in apneas. OSA is far more common than CSA. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of OSA and CSA.
Do I have sleep apnea?
While the most common symptom of sleep apnea is excessive snoring, there are other tell-tale signs of this condition. Since most of the symptoms occur at night, many sleep apnea sufferers are not aware they have this condition and their bed partners are often the first to notice that something is wrong. Some of the most obvious symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- excessive snoring
- waking suddenly, often gasping for breath
- long pauses in breathing
- daytime sleepiness
- feeling exhausted upon waking
- morning headaches
Sleep Apnea Treatments in Denver, CO
A common treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, machine. The machine’s mask covers the nose and mouth and sends a steady stream of air through the airway to keep it open and prevent it from collapsing. However, some people aren't able to tolerate CPAP treatment. Conservative treatments for sleep apnea include simple lifestyle changes like losing weight or changing sleeping positions. However, if these changes fail to produce results, you may need a dental appliance to reposition the jaw and help prevent obstructions of the airway. For mild to moderate sleep apnea, oral appliances can be as effective as CPAP
For more information on sleep apnea, please contact Dr. Wilk at Center for Headache, TMJ, and Sleep Disorders in Denver, CO. Call (303) 758-4865 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Wilk today!