It’s estimated that around 25 million Americans have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but millions more don’t know they have it. Unfortunately, when this condition is left untreated it can lead to serious health problems. Understanding the risks of sleep apnea and the importance of being tested is your best defense against this common disorder. Keep reading below to learn more. You’ll also find out what your options are for sleep apnea therapy, including a custom-made oral appliance from a dentist.
The Dangerous Consequences of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea profoundly disrupts your sleep and prevents you from getting adequate oxygen at night. The most immediate consequences are snoring and daytime fatigue that affects your job, mood and relationships. But sleep apnea also has a long-term impact on your overall health. In fact, some doctors have estimated that it triples a person’s risk of early death.
Here are just some of the specific health problems that are more likely to occur if sleep apnea goes untreated:
- High blood pressure
- Liver problems
- Heart failure
- Impaired memory and cognitive function
- Automobile accidents from daytime fatigue
Should You Be Tested For Sleep Apnea?
Oftentimes, people don’t think about testing because they don’t have the traditional risk factors (excess body weight, age, snoring, etc.) But even young, relatively healthy people can have this condition. And since it occurs while you’re sleeping, it’s easy to remain unaware.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to talk to your dentist or doctor. They can do a preliminary screening and, if necessary, refer you for an overnight sleep study. Proper diagnosis is crucial to make sure the right condition is being treated. And if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, you’ll be able to take the right steps to maintain your health, improve your energy levels, and rest easy at night.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
Sleep apnea therapy can vary for each person, depending on the severity of the condition. It may include a CPAP machine, an oral appliance from a dentist, or surgery (in particularly severe cases).
Combination therapy is also an option, in which an oral appliance is worn along with a CPAP. These lightweight, comfortable devices reposition the jaw and open the airway at night. They make CPAP machines easier to tolerate and also more effective. On their own, they’re very comfortable and convenient, so it’s easy to comply with treatment.
Sleep apnea can have a tremendous impact on your quality of life. But with testing, diagnosis, and treatment, you’ll enjoy more energy, a better mood, and greatly improved health.
About the Author
Dr. Darren Koch has been practicing family dentistry for nearly two decades. He’s a member of numerous professional organizations, including the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), and continually stays on top of the latest research on sleep apnea. If you’d like more information about sleep apnea therapy or have any questions, he can be reached via his website.