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According to the National Sleep Foundation, did you know that over 18 million Americans have sleep apnea? Sleep apnea happens while you sleep and can involuntarily and intermittently stop your breathing. If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, you essentially have a mechanical problem, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. This means that while you sleep, your tongue relaxes and falls back against your soft palate in the back of the throat. This fallback closes your airway so that you cannot breathe normally. When this happens and you try to inhale, your lungs are getting no air, and you can repeatedly stop and start breathing while you sleep. You will also have a tendency to snore trying to breathe.

This can happen to anyone, although some researchers believe it is caused when the lax tongue and throat muscles don’t receive proper brain signals. No matter what the cause, it’s important to be treated for OSA, because it can cause serious problems. You may be overly sleepy in the daytime, awake with headaches, or suffer from depression and poor well-being. If treatment is not received, eventually you can incur heart disease, stroke, diabetes high blood pressure and more.

Treating obstructive sleep apnea can vary, including using an apparatus that keeps your airway open during sleep. There are also dental devices such as a mouthpiece which pushes your jaw forward as you sleep. Should these treatments not work for your OSA, surgery is also an option.

So how do you know if you have this serious condition?

– You have trouble staying awake during the day
– You wake yourself up snoring loudly, or your partner complains that your snoring is waking them up
– Waking yourself up gasping or feeling like you are choking
– Noticing that you stop breathing while you sleep
– Having a dry mouth or a sore throat when you wake up
– Having high blood pressure
– Sweating during your sleep
– Waking up with a headache
– Having changes in your mood (being irritable or depressed)
– Having a diminished sex drive

None of these symptoms should be ignored, especially if there is more than one present. Seeing your doctor or a sleep specialist for interventive treatment is vital, and there are various ways to treat this condition.

– If you are overweight, losing weight can make a difference.
– If you sleep on your back, sleep on your side instead.
– If you have mild snoring or sleep apnea, using a nasal decongestant may help.
– If your child has sleep apnea, they may benefit from having their adenoids or enlarged tonsils removed.
– You may benefit from uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP, surgery to reduce snoring.
– You may benefit from wearing an oral appliance while you sleep to keep the airway open.
– You may benefit from wearing a positive airway pressure device which keeps the airway from collapsing by administering continuous pressurized air flow (a CPAP device). There are also BiPAPS which apply bilevel positive airway pressure, and VPAP S which administer variable positive airway pressure.

Regardless of the treatment you receive, it is critical that you don’t ignore your obstructive sleep apnea if you want to prevent additional health problems and get the quality of sleep your mind and body need. We invite you to give our team a call to learn more or to receive a sleep study diagnosis to determine the severity of your condition and the most appropriate treatment available. When it comes to OSA, your health and wellbeing are in your hands! So let us help you today.