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Sleep Apnea: What Is It? Part One


If you’ve been living above ground in the past decade or so, you’ve probably heard of sleep apnea. It’s constantly referenced from people’s personal lives, television, radio shows, and infomercials.

Your current idea of sleep apnea might be similar to panic attacks, a “fake” condition that’s more about your state of mind rather than an actual medical issue. Or maybe when you think of sleep apnea you think about that airplane oxygen mask and loud machine that people claim to need or else they’ll die. It may have sounded silly at first but now it’s become a mainstream thing and you’re starting to think it’s time to learn about what this whole sleep apnea thing actually is.

Good news! You’re in the right place! In today’s blog we’re going to cover all the basics you’ve wanted to know or feel as if too much time has passed to make a basic question feel socially appropriate now.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Not a made up condition, sleep apnea is the name for a relatively common sleep disorder affecting hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. It’s a condition where your breath stops and starts irregularly repeatedly throughout the course of a night’s sleep. There are three major causes that are classified by the three variations of sleep apnea.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a relaxation of the throat muscles
  • Central sleep apnea is caused by a lack of proper communication between your brain and your muscles responsible for breath control
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome is the name for someone who suffers from both of the above types of sleep apnea

What Are The Symptoms?

If you’re having a difficult time sleeping, snoring loudly, or your partner says sometimes it seems like you stop breathing while asleep it’s time to consider that you might have sleep apnea. There are no limitations on who can have sleep apnea and while it most commonly affects older men, anyone is liable to experience sleep apnea, including children. If any of the following signs are something that you or a loved one regularly experience, it’s probably time to see a doctor.

  • Excessive snoring
  • Periods of sleep where you stop breathing entirely
  • Waking up gasping for air
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling sleepy during the day
  • Inability to focus
  • Irritability
  • Headaches when you wake up

What’s The Big Deal?

Not only is sleep apnea dangerous — you can literally die from accidental asphyxiation — but even if you don’t die, it has a seriously negative affect on your life. Let’s talk about some of the side effects and consequences of untreated sleep apnea!

  • Fatigue
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Problems
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Metabolic Issues
  • Liver Problems and Scarring
  • Sleep-Deprivation

Genuinely, none of those sound fun. In fact, you may have noticed some of these negatives in your life presently and simply thought, “oh I just need more sleep.” However, if you have untreated sleep apnea, it won’t matter how much sleep you get. When it comes to getting a restful snooze, it’s all about quality not quantity. Sleep apnea denies your body of quality sleep regardless of how long you sleep for. Fortunately there are sleep apnea mouthpieces and other forms of treatment options available today!

Dr. Andrew Curry

If you’re worried that you may have sleep apnea or would like to know more, contact us! Dr. Curry is knowledgeable and experienced in helping patients with sleep apnea. Also, we suggest staying tuned! In our next blog, we’re going to go into depth about the different types of sleep apnea and the best possible treatment options. Until then, feel free to schedule an appointment with Texarkana’s Top Rated Local Dentist, Dr. Andrew Curry, for the best possible care and sleep apnea treatment options for you.