It’s estimated that 80% of those who have sleep apnea don’t know that they have the condition. Without a diagnosis, you can’t get treatment to address the many risks associated with sleep apnea such as chronic fatigue, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and more. But one of the most important things you can do is also the simplest: Learn about the signs and symptoms and get regular checkups from a dentist who provides screenings. Learn more below!
What Are the Signs of Sleep Apnea?
You may be aware of two of the most common signs of sleep apnea, both of which occur while sleeping: loud snoring and periodically gasping for breath. But here are some other indications that you may have this condition:
- Regularly waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth
- Always feeling tired or not having any energy, despite sleeping 7 hours or more
- Headaches (particularly in the morning)
- Difficulty maintaining a healthy weight, even with diet and exercise
- Trouble focusing at work or school
- Depression, anxiety or irritability
If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to schedule a consultation with a dentist or doctor. This way, sleep apnea can either be ruled out or diagnosed so you can get the treatment you need.
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed and Treated?
Dentists are in a great position to provide screenings for sleep apnea because they see you twice a year for checkups. If they notice that you have risk factors for sleep apnea or any of the symptoms mentioned above, they may recommend a home sleep test and/or refer you for a sleep study with a medical doctor.
If you are diagnosed, a dentist can provide simple, non-invasive sleep apnea treatment, depending on what your doctor recommends. In severe cases, a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure) or even surgical interventions may be necessary.
For many mild to moderate cases, a dentist can custom-make an oral appliance that repositions your lower jaw and opens your airway at night. These comfortable, lightweight devices are not only effective but also easy to use.
Sleep apnea affects millions of people, many of whom are unaware that they have it. But by being aware of the signs and symptoms and getting tested, you’ll have the information you need to manage sleep apnea and maintain your health and well-being.
About the Author
In the nearly 20 years that Dr. Darren Koch has been a family dentist, he’s seen the impact that sleep apnea can have on someone’s overall health and quality of life. He always closely monitors his patients at every checkup so he can find and treat this condition as early as possible. If you think you may have sleep apnea or have any questions, you can reach Dr. Koch via his website.