Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of this sleep disorder, has a great impact on the overall quality of life a person may attain. This is because sleep apnea affects the degree to which the body is rejuvenated during sleep. Often mistaken as chronic snoring, sleep apnea actually includes the blockage of airflow, which leads to a lack of oxygen in the brain. Air flow often becomes impeded as muscles relax around the throat.

Apnea episodes can occur hundreds of times each period the sufferer attempts to sleep. As the brain is deprived of oxygen, a strong warning in the way of adrenaline is sounded, and the body is jolted into a greater state of alertness, though sleep is not fully disrupted. The goal of the brain is to simply restore breathing. The sound of apnea episodes may include choking or gasping for air, and very loud snoring.

The problems that stem from obstructive sleep apnea are varied, and can be very concerning. The damage to the body comes from the lack of deep REM sleep, which is necessary for memory processing, the regulation of blood pressure, and tissue repair. Within just a few days of lack of sleep, the body and mind begin to show signs of distress, ranging from moodiness to poor concentration to impaired judgment.

It is important to recognize sleep apnea if health is to be restored. Many people are discovering the most comfortable treatment for sleep apnea comes from their dentist. In our Bloomington, IL dental practice, we address this concerning problem with a custom-fitted oral appliance that gently places the jaw into proper positioning during sleep. When in proper position, the jaw keeps the airway open so that breathing may continue normally. But first, sleep apnea must be diagnosed by a sleep physician.

As with many health conditions, sleep apnea has certain risk factors associated with it. The importance of understanding risk is that it can aid in determining if symptoms are indeed due to obstructive sleep apnea. Some of the factors that may lead to this condition include:

  • Obesity.
  • Sleep disorders in your family history.
  • Age – risk increases in those over the age of 65.
  • Gender – obstructive sleep apnea affects twice as many middle aged men as middle aged women.
  • Larger neck circumference.
  • Abnormalities in the structure of the upper airway or nose.
  • Ethnicity – The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states that Hispanics, African Americans, and Pacific Islanders are more commonly diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Use of tobacco products.
  • Consumption of alcohol.

Recognizing and treating obstructive sleep apnea can change your life for the better. Contact Eastland Dental Center for more information.

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