What Is Sleep Apnea?

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Sleep apnea is a breathing condition that affects millions of Americans, and countless others around the world. It is also undiagnosed in a great many of them.

During the day, breathing seems smooth and automatic. Our air passages stay open and strong, due to our consciousness and upright posture. At night, all this changes.

The moment we lie down, gravity takes over, everything relaxes, and our breathing in general becomes deeper. This can be a triple threat. Passages that are too relaxed will actually collapse in on themselves, effectively cutting off all breathing.

The lungs will do their best to get air, but sometimes they can’t do it alone. The brain, not having any other choice, will wake up the sleeper, who immediately starts breathing again. This only happens for a microsecond. Usually, it’s so quick that no one remembers waking up at all.

Unfortunately, even a moment is enough to interrupt a sleep cycle. To make matters worse, this can happen as many as hundreds of times in a single night. The next morning, the unsuspecting person will wake up thinking that they’ve had a complete night’s rest.

The Consequences of Apnea

Apnea is characterized by chronic snoring, extreme daytime exhaustion, restless nights, and sometimes even depression. It often seems relatively harmless. What’s a little heavy snoring, after all?

In fact, this condition can dramatically affect the health of anyone who suffers it.

One distinct side effect is low oxygen. Without deep, uninhibited breathing, the blood isn’t able to get sufficient levels of oxygen to the body systems that need it. This, in turn, can lead to many more severe conditions, such as increased blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.

Extreme exhaustion also lowers the body’s immune response. Illness develops more easily inside an immune system that doesn’t have the energy to fight it off. We need proper rest in order to function normally.

What Do I Do About It?

There are two traditional approaches to sleep apnea. One treatment is the use of a CPAP machine. The other involves a custom-designed oral appliance.

CPAP | Simply put, this is a machine that pumps a continuous stream of air through a mask. While wearing this mask at night, the pressurized air keeps passages open, allowing you to breath, and your body to finally rest. This is considered to be the most effective apnea treatment available.

Oral Appliances | These appliances are essentially custom mouth guards. They are much more low maintenance than a CPAP, and convenient for travel. The mouth guards work by keeping your jaw and tongue from collapsing backward at night, which helps to keep the airways open.

If you or anyone you know suffers from symptoms like these, it may indicate sleep apnea. Fairchance Dental Arts will help you on your way to the good night’s rest you deserve. Give us a call today.