Few people would argue the need for a good night’s sleep and how important it is to overall health and wellness. But there is a very serious condition that can rob us of that rest and regeneration that we are supposed to be getting while we sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea, while a very common sleep disorder, it is also a very serious sleep disorder that causes a person to cease breathing during deep sleep. The affects sleep apnea has on the body can be very serious. Kopp Dental and Associates in the Chicago area takes a closes look at these and how treating obstructive sleep apnea can help.

What Sleep Apnea Is

When someone is suffering apnea during sleep the airway gets blocked, limiting the oxygen flow. When this happens, loud snoring or choking noises are common as a person struggles to breathe. Because of the affects sleep apnea has on the body, the brain and body becomes oxygen deprived and begins the struggle to function properly which cause the person to be startled awake as they struggle to breathe and catch their breath. Many times, they are not waking up enough to even realize that it is happening. Treating obstructive sleep apnea is more than a way of resolving an annoying problem. It can be essential to someone’s health.

The truly surprising and terrifying thing is that this cessation of breathing can happen only off and on throughout the night or it can happen hundreds of times. Since someone may or may not wake up each time fully to comprehend that they have had breathing problems they may not realize how bad it is. The affects sleep apnea has on the body, even minor apnea, is enough to disrupt sleep and stress out the entire body.

Affects Sleep Apnea Has on the Body

In many cases, apnea attacks are caused by the airways becoming blocked. Usually this is caused by the throat walls collapsing or by the tongue falling back over the opening of the throat. Sleep apnea robs you of sleep during the multiple micro periods of waking during the night. This interrupts the natural sleep cycles and prevent you from ever getting into the deep stage sleep that you need to feel rested and rejuvenated. The affects sleep apnea has on the body when you wake up in the morning leaves you feeling tired or unrefreshed, even after a full night of sleep. During the day, exhaustion, confusion, lack of motivation, napping, drifting, forgetfulness, daydreaming, and irritability are common signs of apnea issues.

According to the Sleep Education Center, the lack of oxygen your body receives due to the affects sleep apnea has on the body can have negative long-term consequences for your health. This may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Pre-diabetes and diabetes
  • Depression
  • Lowered libido
  • obesity

Obstructive sleep apnea may be among the most common yet most under diagnosed sleep disorder of today. There are many people with sleep apnea who have not been diagnosed or received treatment. A sleep medicine physician can diagnose obstructive sleep apnea using an in-lab sleep study or a home sleep test. Once the diagnosis has been given many people begin the challenge of figuring out what to do with the diagnosis and how they should go about dealing with the affects sleep apnea has on the body. Before jumping into treatment options, it is important to know the warning signs and symptoms to know if you or a loved one needs to be tested for sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The symptom that is most commonly associated with apnea related disorders is loud or excessive snoring. It is important to note that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea and that it is possible to have apnea and not be an excessive snorer. This is usually the first indication however that there may be some sort of night time breathing issue. If snoring is accompanied by choking or gasping sounds, then there is a strong chance it is apnea and not just regular snoring. Common signs of the affects sleep apnea has on the body that may point to the need for advanced treating of obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Loud or frequent snoring – excessive, violent, struggling snores
  • Choking or gasping sounds – gurgling and strangling sounds during sleep
  • Pauses in breathing – 10-30 seconds or longer in severe cases
  • Morning headaches and stiffness – due to tightened muscled from struggling to breathe
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness – exhaustion from lack of good deep sleep
  • Insomnia – disruptions to sleep cycle can lead to exhaustion and even insomnia
  • A sore throat or excessively dry throat and mouth- mouth breathing dries you out
  • Frequent waking at night to urinate- the mini wakeups can lead to full waking cycles
  • Trouble concentrating – lack of focus during the day or having a brain fog feeling
  • Memory or learning problems- noticeable drop in work/school performance
  • Moodiness, irritability or depression- mood swings are common with sleep deprivation

Sleep Apnea – Options for treatment

There are several options for treating obstructive sleep apnea once someone has been given the diagnosis. An initial treatment usually involves the fitting and nightly use of a CPAP machine. This is a specially designed machine that is very effective in dealing with the affects sleep apnea has on the body. It delivers pressurized oxygen through a mask. This is usually enough to help more than half of all sleep apnea cases and many people see results and begin to feel better within weeks of starting the nightly CPAP treatments.

Non-compliant or non-tolerant CPAP patients may benefit from oral appliance therapy. While the CPAP is the gold standard for sleep apnea, some patients cannot tolerate the machine and their physician may recommend an oral appliance be made by their dentist. Oftentimes patients with moderate to mild conditions are served best by an oral appliance. For many this can effectively treat the affects sleep apnea has on the body

For some patients the CPAP and or appliance are not what is needed and surgical steps need to be taken to improve the flow of air through the nose and throat and into the lungs. Contact Kopp Dental at (630) 941-8398 today if you believe you have concerns regarding sleep apnea. We are happy to do a free screening to see if you are a candidate for a sleep study. We want to help you better understand the affects sleep apnea has on the body and how you can fight back!