What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is caused by the supportive muscles of the soft palate being too relaxed. The uvula, tonsils and sides of the throat are all affected; causing the airway to tighten or often completely shutting. This can cause serious problems since people suffering from the condition can stop breathing while sleeping. It can also cause sleepless nights, since this can occur up to 30 times per hour for some people.
There are some sleep apnea conditions that are caused by heart problems, strokes, or brain tumors. This is called central sleep apnea and will require medical treatment beyond a mouth guard, since it is caused by the brain signals not reaching the muscles properly.
Sleep Apnea vs. Snoring
Snoring and sleep apnea are often grouped together because snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea. However, when someone snores, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they suffer from sleep apnea. The causes for snoring can be a number of things, while sleep apnea is a sleep disorder.
So how do you know which you are dealing with? Since sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose, it is best to get professional advice. Seeing a Neuromuscular Dentist like Dr. Barney, as well as an ENT doctor, can help determine the root cause of your snoring.
What Causes Snoring?
- Weight – Being overweight can cause snoring. Excess fat pushes the tissues inside the mouth and throat closer together, constricting the airways and causing snoring.
- Alcohol – Alcohol consumption can cause snoring because alcohol relaxes the muscles. As the throat muscles relax, the airway closes tighter than is normal.
- Uvula Size – The size of your uvula (pink tissue that hangs down in the back of your mouth) can cause snoring. If it is too long, it blocks the airways when you’re sleeping, causing snoring.
Basically, snoring is caused by anything that blocks the airway in your throat.
WATCHPAT™ Instructional Video
Factors That Can Cause Sleep Apnea
- Family history
- Adenoid or tonsil enlargement
- Nasal congestion
What Problems Can Sleep Apnea Cause?
Sleep apnea doesn’t only affect breathing. It is a serious condition that can cause problems for your entire system. It can cause:
- High blood pressure
- Liver problems
- Medication problems
- Chronic fatigue
Sleep Apnea Treatment
As a certified Neuromuscular Dentist, Dr. Barney is qualified to treat sleep apnea and snoring problems. Treatment options will depend on the individual, and include lifestyle changes and other medical treatments from ENT specialists. Dr. Barney can eliminate snoring and relieve symptoms of sleep apnea using a mouth guard designed specifically for you. This device opens up the airway by pushing your jaw forward, keeping the surrounding tissues from blocking the air passage.
Here is an interesting article provided by American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine: Drowsy Driving
Is the Mouth Guard a Permanent Solution?
This depends on the individual case. The mouth guard alleviates the symptoms so you can sleep safely and soundly. But some cases of sleep apnea will require surgery or further treatment.
Video Testimonial from Dr. Barney’s Sleep Apnea Patient
Schedule a Consultation
If you would like to learn more about snoring and sleep apnea treatment, please call (304) 754-8803 to schedule a consultation at our office in Hedgesville, WV.