Possible causes for sleep apnea explained by your Indianapolis, IN dentist

causes for sleep apnea explained by your Indianapolis, IN dentist

Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, and the estimated number is based only on those cases that have been diagnosed. Experts believe many more people are suffering needlessly, possibly believing their problem is simply related to chronic snoring. 

In obstructive sleep apnea, the airflow becomes blocked as the muscles around the throat relax as a person sleeps. As this occurs, the oxygen supply to the brain is significantly decreased. Without adequate delivery of oxygen, the brain, heart, lungs, and blood are all affected. The brain, in response to the lack of oxygen, sends a shot of adrenaline to the body, which results in disrupted sleep. Although enough to restore breathing, this process rarely results in full waking. Rather, the pulse quickens and the level of sleep is lifted slightly. On a physical level, the sleeper will likely snore very loudly, possibly with a choking or gasping sound. 

There are many problems associated with poor sleep. Sleep apnea poses a significant risk to health and wellbeing. This condition gets in the way of one’s ability to get the adequate amount of REM sleep, the level in which the memory processes are regenerated, tissues are repaired, and the blood pressure regulated. Studies show that after just seven days of poor sleep, a person is at a greater risk for depression, mood swings, decreased memory, lack of productivity, and hyperactivity.

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The issue health care providers encounter is that sleep apnea is hard to recognize, with many people thinking they have a bad snoring problem. The more that is understood about sleep apnea, the more likely people are to recognize not only the symptoms of the condition, but also the possible causes for sleep apnea. In our Indianapolis, IN dental practice, we recognize some of the risk factors as:

  • Obesity
  • Age – the risk of sleep apnea increases with age, with 1 in 10 people aged 65 and older experiencing this condition
  • Family history of any type of sleep disorder
  • Structural abnormalities affecting the upper airway
  • Neck circumference larger than 17cm
  • Gender – Middle-aged men are twice as likely to develop sleep apnea than middle aged women
  • Lifestyle habits such as alcohol consumption or smoking
  • Ethnicity – The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports that people of Hispanic, African American, or Pacific Islander descent are more commonly affected by sleep apnea

There are viable solutions to obstructive sleep apnea available today, so no one has to suffer the far-reaching consequences of this disorder. Your medical provider, or even your dentist, can help you discover if your loss of sleep is due to sleep apnea. At Washington Street Dentistry, we give patients the opportunity to relieve the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea using custom fitted oral appliances that are easy to use and comfortable to wear throughout the night. 

Contact our office to learn more about sleep apnea, and learn how to relieve the symptoms of this sleep disorder.



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