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How do you know if you have sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea affects up to 25% of men and 10% of women.

Sleep apnoea is a sleeping disorder that can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. Read on to learn more about sleep apnoea, including its causes and symptoms, and what treatments are available for sleep apnoea.

What is sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is a potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleeping. This condition can affect anyone — however, overweight older men are particularly at risk.

The most common form of sleep apnoea is known as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

This condition can vary in severity, and usually expresses itself, initially, as loud snoring and feelings of tiredness throughout the day (even after a full night’s sleep).

What are the causes of sleep apnoea?

There are many possible causes of sleep apnoea.

In addition to being male and being older than 50 years of age, some of the different risk factors that could lead to the development of sleep apnoea include:

  • Narrowed airway. This could be caused by a number of factors, but most commonly by excess weight. In the case of children, enlarged tonsils or adenoids can sometimes block the airway.
  • Smoking and drinking. Substances such as alcohol, tranquillisers and sedatives relax the muscles in your throat, which can exacerbate obstructive sleep apnoea. While smoking increases the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnoea than people who have never smoked.
  • Underlying medical conditions. A wide range of medical conditions, from nasal congestion to congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, may increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnoea. Thyroid issues, hormonal disorders, and chronic lung diseases such as asthma also can increase risk.

What are the symptoms and risks of sleep apnoea?

If left untreated, sleep apnoea can compromise overall quality of life and lead to serious health complications.

Typical symptoms of sleep apnoea include:

  • Snoring, often accompanied by a dry mouth or sore throat upon awakening.
  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue, sometimes accompanied by headaches.
  • Restlessness during sleep, with frequent night time awakenings (sometimes with a sensation of gasping or choking).
  • Cognitive impairment, such as trouble concentrating or forgetfulness, or mood disturbances, such as irritability, depression and anxiety.
  • Night sweats, or frequently needing to urinate at night.
  • Sexual dysfunction.

Untreated sleep apnoea can, furthermore, lead to the development of health problems such as hypertension, strokes, heart failure, diabetes, and heart attacks.

What are the treatment options for sleep apnoea?

Any effective treatment plan for sleep apnoea will involve lifestyle changes. These will include losing weight, quitting smoking and minimising alcohol intake.

For cases of severe obstructive sleep apnoea, airway pressure therapy is often recommended. This treatment is provided via a mask (worn at night) that keeps the back of the throat open by forcing air through the nose.

Meanwhile, in milder cases of sleep apnoea, dental appliances can be an effective means of alleviating some of the most acute symptoms, such as snoring and poor quality of sleep.

Speak to your dentist if you suspect that sleep apnoea may be impacting your lifestyle, and they will help you to diagnose its cause accurately and find a suitable treatment plan.

How can we help?

Your trusted team at Kitchener Street Dental is able to assist in finding the cause of your sleep apnoea and guiding you down a suitable and effective treatment path. Are you eligible for a dental appliance to treat sleep apnoea? Please find more information here.

Our practice boasts a range of modern facilities, which allows us to conduct every treatment with complete confidence in the technology and techniques we use. To visit our state-of-the-art dental care facility and meet our experienced team of skilled oral healthcare professionals, book an appointment here.

As we are committed to bringing you the very best in all round, holistic care, we can provide you with a wide range of treatment options. Whether you are in need of a simple check-up to ensure that your teeth are maintained in good condition or require a more involved cosmetic or restorative dental treatment, we aim to help you to achieve the maximum level of health and beauty from your smile. For more information about our wide range of dental treatments, please consult our website.

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