If you find yourself falling asleep while you are sitting at your desk or worse yet, driving home from work, you could be suffering from Sleep Apnea. According to Web MD, morning headaches, snoring, gasping and choking could all be signs of Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea affects over 18 million adults in the United States.
There are two types of Sleep Apnea, the more common; Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the muscles in your throat relax and the upper passages of your airways close. The other type of Sleep Apnea, Central Sleep Apnea, is rarer and disturbs your breathing because of brain functions. Central Sleep Apnea is normally associated with a serious illness. Central Sleep Apnea in infants causes breathing to cease for up to twenty seconds.
Serious health problems that may be the cause of Central Sleep Apnea include
• Hypothyroid Disease
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Alzheimer’s Disease
• Kidney Failure
• Lou Gehrig’s Disease
• Congestive Heart Failure
The main symptom for Central Sleep Apnea is breathing stoppage while you sleep. Snoring is one of the strongest symptoms for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, but is not so common in Central Sleep Apnea.
Some of the Central Sleep Apnea symptoms include
• Waking up at night
• Falling asleep during waking hours
• Frequent urination
• Early morning headaches
• Memory problems
• Difficulty concentrating
• Mood swings
Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea are both very serious disorders that can cause a person to stop breathing multiple times during sleep. Some doctors have seen sleep study cases where the patient wakes up hundreds of times during sleep gasping for breath. Once this occurs the rest of the body is not getting the oxygen it needs causing the patient to wake up choking unable to breathe.
Sleep Apnea does affect children and women, but men who are over 40 years old and carry more weight than they should are more susceptible to Sleep Apnea.
Some Sleep Apnea signs to look for include
• Daytime Sleepiness
• Poor Concentration
• Slow Reflexes
• Increased Accident Risk
• Memory Problems
• Morning Headaches
• Mood Swings
• Changes in Personality
• Sore Throat or Dry Mouth
• Tobacco Use
Over time, Sleep Apnea can cause serious health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and even weight gain.
Identifying Sleep Apnea on your own can be difficult as most of the symptoms such as gasping for breath, choking, snoring and the inability to breath only occur when you are asleep. Your partner can help observe your sleeping habits, or you can record yourself when you are asleep.
Seeing your doctor is the best way to diagnose your problem. Your doctor will be able to provide you with a sleep study in order to determine the root cause of your gasping for breath while you sleep.
Ask yourself these questions, which may be able to help you identify Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or Central Sleep Apnea
1. Do you snore three or more times a week?
2. Can everyone in the house hear you snoring?
3. Has your partner or someone else observed gasping or breathing stoppage while you sleep?
4. Are you overweight?
5. What is the size of your collar?
6. Are you being treated for, or do you have high blood pressure?
7. Do you find yourself falling asleep during the day?
8. Do you ever doze off behind the wheel?
If you are a man with a collar size of more than 17 inches or a woman with a collar size larger than 16 inches you may be suffering from Sleep Apnea as neck size can constrict your breathing.
Remember, not everyone who snores suffers from Sleep Apnea, and not everyone who suffers from Sleep Apnea snores. The biggest way to tell if you are suffering from Sleep Apnea is how you feel during your waking hours. Normal snoring does not cause extreme fatigue like Sleep Apnea does.
Keep a sleep diary and record how often you wake up at night. If you have a partner, ask he or she to keep track of how loud, and how often you snore. Also, ask your partner to take note of choking, gasping, or other sounds that are unusual while you are sleeping.
If you have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, schedule an appointment with Peace Arch Dental who can help you come up with a plan to help you sleep better.
Dr. Michael Layton (DDS) is the dentist for Peace Arch Dental, a dental office in the South Surrey/White Rock, B.C. area. He has been in the dental industry for the last decade and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. He takes pride in providing positive and caring dental solutions for people of every walk of life – this includes loose dentures! You can follow him on Google+.