Do You Have Sleep Apnea? Don’t Ignore These 15 Red Flags
Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing stops and repeatedly starts while sleeping. According to the CPAP blog, about three to seven percent of men and between two and five percent of women suffer from sleep apnea. And, since the symptoms of the ailment are subtle, it is estimated that about 75% of sleep-disordered breathing cases are undiagnosed today. So this begs the question, do you have sleep apnea if you wake up tired? Further, what signs and symptoms should you be aware of?
Be on the lookout for these signs of sleep apnea.
Your medical provider will usually conduct a sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea. And, if you have sleep apnea, various treatments are available. But, for your doctor to help, patients need to know how to recognize the signs of the illness in the first place. If you experience one or more symptoms regularly, you must contact your medical provider to make them aware. Failure to address sleep apnea symptoms can have serious consequences, including death.
Here are 15 red flags that indicate you may have sleep apnea.
- Waking up choking or gasping for air
- Waking up frequently throughout the night to use the restroom (a condition called nocturia) or for no reason
- Snoring that isn’t explained by alcohol consumption, allergies, a cold, or your weight
- Waking up with a dry mouth, sore throat, or headache
- Cavities caused by open-mouth breathing
- Worn teeth, from nighttime grinding and clenching (called bruxism)
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, possibly from grinding and clenching
- Feeling sleepy while you drive
- Falling asleep behind the wheel or while relaxing and watching television
- Daytime fatigue, creating the need to take naps during the day
- Falling asleep within just a couple minutes of hitting your pillow (typically, it should take a healthy adult about 10 to 15 minutes to fall asleep)
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances such as sleep paralysis
- Changes in appetite or eating habits
- Changes in mood or inattentiveness at work or in school
- Chronic acid reflux
To be diagnosed with sleep apnea, you don’t need to have all these symptoms. And, of course, just one could be a sign of something else. For example, if you have worn teeth, it could indicate that you are experiencing stress or untreated anxiety. Falling asleep behind the wheel can mean you aren’t going to bed at a reasonable time and are pushing yourself too hard. That said, past studies have shown that sleep apnea is associated with a 123% increased crash risk compared to no sleep apnea. And sleeping only six hours per night was associated with a 33% increased crash risk, compared to getting at least seven or eight hours of sleep per night.
To that end, while having one symptom here or there could indicate something else, if you have the presence of two, three, or more, you must seek treatment from your medical provider. With the proper treatment, these symptoms can resolve, and you can experience the health improvements you deserve, including a good night’s sleep.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
If your doctor determines that you have sleep apnea, also sometimes referred to as sleep-disordered breathing, they will likely consider one of three treatments. Good sleep is an imperative aspect of your overall health. When you don’t get a good night’s rest, it can impact your body’s ability to heal and adequately regulate your internal systems. So, typical treatments include:
1. CPAP Machine
Using a CPAP machine makes it easier for you to breathe, thus preventing you from waking up in the middle of the night. A CPAP machine provides air at a pressure just high enough to prevent the collapse of your airway. This pressurized air is provided via a mask placed over your mouth or nose.
2. BiPAP Machine
The primary difference between a CPAP machine and a BiPAP machine is that CPAPs are set at one single pressure while BiPAPs are programmed with two distinct pressures—one for inhaling and one for exhaling. CPAP machines are primarily prescribed to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), and BiPAP machines are more commonly prescribed to treat Central Sleep Apnea, Complex Sleep Apnea, or COPD.
3. An Oral Appliance
Sometimes, patients find CPAP and BiPAP machines too bulky or noisy for a good night’s sleep, despite the ability to breathe better. On other occasions, your sleep partner may struggle to get a good night’s sleep due to your breathing machine. In these cases, your dentist may be able to help by prescribing a custom-made oral appliance designed to support your jaw in a forward position to keep your airway open. This helps prevent snoring and can ensure you breathe better while sleeping.
Talk to The Tooth Doc about treatment for sleep apnea.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, now is the time to seek treatment. And, if a CPAP or BiPAP doesn’t seem right for you, now is the time to talk to your dentist about other sleep apnea treatments. Request an appointment with The Tooth Doc to help you get back on the path to better sleep.