It seems few people in Los Angeles get enough sleep: we have a lot on our minds and it’s a noisy and busy city,so it’s hard to get the quality shut-eye of 6 to 8 hours doctors recommend.
But if your spouse or companion complains about your snoring and you have a frequent need to urinate during the night, wake up choking, feeling there is cotton in your mouth, or with a sore throat, these can be symptoms of sleep apnea.
An apnea is a pause in breathing while you sleep, which causes oxygen deprivation. It can happen because if you are lying on your back, your tongue might fall towards the back of the throat and block it (more likely if you have a large tongue or tonsils or a small jawbone). Other risk factors are being male over 40, overweight, a neck size 16-17 or more, suffer from gastroesophageal reflux, allergies, or sinus problems, have a deviated septum, drink alcohol or use tranquilizers or sedatives.
Other signs that could be consequences of sleep apnea: tiredness during the day, anxiety, depression, irritability, problems focusing or remembering things, morning migraines, slow reaction time, and erectile dysfunction.
These frequent apneas cause the carbon dioxide in the blood to skyrocket, which forces your heart to pump harder and faster to provide oxygen. When it’s not enough, the brain prompts you to wake up and take a full breath, even though you probably won’t even remember doing so. That process stresses the cardiovascular system, so it’s no wonder that the 12 million Americans who have sleep apnea are far more prone to have strokes or heart failure, according to the National Institutes of Health. There is also a higher risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
As if all that were not enough, sleep deprivation of all kinds is a major cause of traffic accidents and truck drivers especially should be tested for sleep apnea so it can be treated.
The most common and perhaps best recommendation from doctors is the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device, which is connected to the individual by a tube to a plastic face mask that covers the nose. However, a study showed that half of patients were not using it properly and long-term compliance was challenging. Many complained that it gave them chest discomfort, skin and nose irritation, sore lips and gums, a dry mouth, and the sense of being trapped.
The good news is that Wilshire Smile Studio can easily relieve sleep apnea in many cases with a customized, FDA-approved oral appliance to wear at night, which opens the airway. In others, our oral surgeon can provide a surgical solution he can discuss with you. If you believe you might may need help with snoring or sleeping problems that need to be diagnosed, call to set an appointment for a thorough examination: 323-DENTIST (336-8478).