While there are many different types of sleep disorders, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is one of the most common, affecting millions of people each year. The symptoms of sleep apnea are numerous and varied, so OSA often goes misdiagnosed or undiagnosed until a Wilmington, North Carolina, sleep apnea dentist spots the key sleep apnea symptoms and orders a sleep study to get a confirmed diagnosis.

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, it may be time to learn about sleep apnea treatment options in your area. If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea in the past, you’ll be happy to learn about some new treatment options that have become available in recent years.

Common Sleep Apnea Symptoms

People with sleep apnea often wake up choking and gasping for air. When you have sleep apnea, your airway becomes so relaxed that the tissue actually collapses and blocks your airway. You may wake up because you can’t breathe, which may occur hundreds of times per night. Breathing stoppages due to sleep apnea may last ten seconds or longer and can cause serious health problems when left untreated. Sleep apnea symptoms include:

  • Choking/gasping for air
  • Waking up during the night
  • Snoring
  • Dry mouth upon waking
  • Morning headache
  • Frequent urination (mainly due to the fact that the constant sleep disruptions make you realize you have to relieve yourself)
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Irritability
  • Daytime sleepiness/fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Mood swings

Yes, that’s a lot of symptoms, but when you’re suffering from constant sleep disruption and waking up because you can’t breathe, you will suffer the next day. Over time, some serious medical conditions may occur when Obstructive Sleep Apnea is not treated.

Long-Term Effects of Untreated Sleep Apnea

If you have sleep apnea and have yet to seek sleep apnea treatment in Wilmington, North Carolina, you may have a difficult road ahead regarding your health. According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website, several studies have shown an association between sleep apnea and problems like:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heat attack and other cardiovascular problems
  • Shortened life span
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Kidney damage (renal failure)

According to medical professionals, obesity is very common in sleep apnea patients, and obesity greatly increases the risks of diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. Simply put, most obese people have sleep apnea, and many people who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea are obese.

However, that certainly does not mean that physically fit people cannot have OSA. There are a lot of factors to consider when diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and for this reason, a person must have a sleep study to get an “official” diagnosis of OSA.

People with sleep apnea are also more prone to car accidents and workplace accidents due to their constant sleep deprivation. Sadly, untreated sleep apnea has contributed to higher numbers of suicide because poor quality sleep that occurs over years and even decades takes a physical, mental, emotional, and psychological toll on the person suffering from this complex sleep disorder.

Sleep Apnea Treatment in Wilmington, North Carolina

There is good news, though. There is hope after a sleep apnea diagnosis. Your Wilmington, North Carolina, sleep apnea dentist will discuss a number of treatment options that may work for you. CPAP, which stands for “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure,” has worked for millions of people over the last several decades, but this sleep apnea treatment is not ideal for everyone.

While CPAP is hugely effective, some of the problems it presents include the following:

  • Uncomfortable masks
  • Skin irritation
  • Dry nose, mouth, or throat
  • Irritation of the nose, mouth, or throat
  • Irritating sound
  • Bulky setup
  • Hose interferes with sleep
  • Inability to fall asleep due to the mask, hose, and noise

Instead of CPAP, Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) works wonders for many people and requires very little “work” on your part. Your Wilmington, NC, sleep apnea dentist will use the most advanced dental technology available to construct an oral appliance that will work by repositioning tissues of the mouth and throat to help keep your airway open. This is accomplished by changing the position of the jaw, which helps to support the airway.

Oral appliance therapy is a CPAP alternative that is changing people’s lives every day, and some insurance companies may even assist with financing your oral appliance therapy. In very rare cases, sleep apnea surgery may be indicated, but most sleep apnea sufferers find relief with more conservative treatment options.

Learn More About Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Treatment in Wilmington, NC

Please call Wilmington, NC, sleep apnea dentist Dr. Michael J. Kuzma at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry (910) 392-6060 to learn more about sleep apnea symptoms and sleep apnea treatment options. You may also fill out our online contact form, and one of our dental team members will reach out to answer questions or schedule your new patient evaluation.