The word “apnea” comes from Greek, and it means “without breath.” Sleep apnea, then, is sleeping without breath: a condition in which someone’s breathing stops involuntarily during sleep. It is serious, but treatable at the Mt. Vernon Center for Dentistry in Alexandria.
Sleep apnea is more common than you may realize, affecting more than eighteen million Americans. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, headaches, and heart disease, among other conditions.
Types and Symptoms
There are three main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. It occurs when the throat muscles relax during sleep.
- Central sleep apnea is when the brain doesn’t get the body’s signals that control breathing.
- Complex sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Anyone can get sleep apnea, even children. But it’s more common in men than women, especially African-American and Hispanic men. Risk factors include being over the age of forty and being overweight.
The most common symptoms include:
- Loud snoring
- Gasping for breath during sleep
- Headaches in the morning
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Shortened attention span
All of this may sound frightening, and it can be. But there is hope, too, because sleep apnea can be treated with an oral appliance from the Mt. Vernon Center for Dentistry in Alexandria. Patients also come to us for family dentistry. If you think that you may have sleep apnea, please contact us today!