Does Snoring Mean You Have Sleep Apnea?
Although there are countless jokes about snoring, about half of the estimated 90 million Americans who snore may have a serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea. If you’re one of the “lucky” snorers who don’t have sleep apnea, you have what is known as primary snoring. If you have sleep apnea, you have a potentially life-threatening condition that should be treated.
All snoring is caused by tissue in the throat relaxing and partially blocking the flow of air in and out of your body. However, if you have sleep apnea, the sound of those tissues vibrating is accompanied by pauses in breathing that can last from a few seconds up to a minute or more. Loud, frequent snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea.
Why it’s dangerous
When you stop breathing while you’re asleep, there’s less oxygen in your blood and your heart has to work harder. You also may wake up just enough to disrupt your sleep, even though you don’t remember it.
The combination of lower blood oxygen levels, increased workload on your heart, and lack of restful sleep presents a dangerous mixture for your health. You’re at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and a host of other health problems.
If, in addition to snoring you have any of the following symptoms, you may have sleep apnea:
- You wake up gasping or choking
- Your mouth and throat are often dry and sore in the morning
- You frequently feel fatigued during the day
- You often have headaches in the mornings
- You’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, heart disease, or other cardiac-related issues
Why is an article about sleep apnea on a dentist’s blog?
Sleep apnea is a medical condition, but Dr. Palmieri may be the right person to provide your treatment. Depending on the severity of your condition, as well as other factors, a dental appliance may be the best way to keep your airway open so you can enjoy the benefits of uninterrupted sleep.
A mandibular advancement device (MAD) or a mandibular repositioning dental appliance is often used to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea. It’s a customized oral appliance that you wear at night that pushes your lower jaw forward. This reduces the likelihood of the tissues at the back of your throat blocking your airway.
In some cases, a dental appliance is not adequate treatment. In those cases, the standard treatment is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. In some situations, the use of a dental appliance in combination with a CPAP machine is the most appropriate treatment.
More rarely, Dr. Palmieri recommends surgery to permanently correct the shape of your lower jaw and prevent the soft tissues at the back of your throat from collapsing and blocking your airway.
Our expert dentist, Dr. Palmieri and his staff have extensive training in recognizing and treating sleep apnea. He’s familiar with the symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options. If you think your snoring may be related to sleep apnea, book an appointment online or by phone for a consultation with Dr. Palmieri. You may simply be a primary snorer, but why take the risk of having an untreated, serious condition?