Sleep apnea is a chronic medical disorder. It happens when you have pauses in your breathing during sleep. While the pauses may not be long in length (about several seconds to a few minutes), it can happen quite frequently. Some people may experience pauses in breathing up to 30 times or more in an hour. Other people may have shallow breathing. When your breathing starts again, you may make a choking or snorting sound.
One of the main causes of sleep apnea is when the airway becomes blocked or collapses. Reasons that a person may find their breathing obstructed include being overweight, having enlarged tonsils, or having the bony structure of the neck or head create smaller airways.
Anyone can experience sleep apnea. It can often go undiagnosed because you don’t realize you are experiencing a shortness of breath while sleeping. During the night you may snore. When you wake up, you feel tired all day.
Sleep apnea can cause serious medical conditions. It can create arrhythmias where your heart has an irregular heartbeat. Untreated sleep apnea has also been linked to the increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure.
This medical condition can be treated using a variety of methods. You may need a mouthpiece to open up the airways in the mouth. Your doctor may recommend breathing devices, or you may have to undergo surgery. If you notice a loved one with sleep apnea, or your spouse notices that you may have this condition, speak with a doctor.
Set up an appointment at our dental office if you experience sleep apnea. We can work with your doctor to diagnose and treat this medical condition. Then you can get a great night’s sleep without sleep apnea affecting your breathing at night.