An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, but 80 percent of them don’t know it yet. Some people stop breathing for 10 to 30 seconds at a time, up to 400 times a night. They may not realize it, but the episodes prevent them from slipping into deep, restorative sleep, and greatly increase the risk of suffering a stroke, getting into a car accident, or having a heart attack.
The trouble is that the symptoms aren’t always apparent because they occur during the night when sufferers aren’t fully aware. Without a light-sleeping partner to notice the signs, it could take a cardiac event and a trip to the emergency room before someone with Obstructive Sleep Apnea realizes they have it. The sleep apnea experts at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry say to look out for five warning signs before the condition worsens.
5 biggest sleep apnea warning signs:
Loud and persistent snoring is a tell-tale sign of sleep apnea. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but most people with sleep apnea snore. The snoring is usually loudest when the sleeper is on his or her back. Loud, disruptive snoring may not occur every night, but may progressively worsen over time.
Sleep apnea reduces ventilation by at least 50 percent, so it’s common for a person to wake up choking and gasping for breath. Most of the time, people with sleep apnea just shift around in their sleep enough to contract the throat muscles and open the windpipe, and they never remember the awakening. Other times, the brain triggers an emergency kickstart of the system, which is that sputtering, choking, gasping reflex.
3. Dry mouth and sore throat
It’s very hard for people to gasp through their noses. More than a third of people with sleep apnea report dry mouth as a symptom because they breathe through open mouths all night long. Mornings start with dry, sore throats, unquenchable thirst, and gummy-feeling front teeth.
4. Morning headaches and fatigue
Impaired breathing at night means less oxygen delivered to the brain. The lack of oxygen widens the blood vessels in the head. People with sleep apnea often suffer morning headaches and feel mentally fatigued all day long, despite technically “clocking” enough sleep time. Severe sleep apnea patients rapidly fall asleep during the day, at work, watching TV, while driving, or mid-conversation. People who sleep alone may not have any other symptoms other than excessive daytime sleepiness and headaches in the mornings.
5. Frequent night urination
Extreme sleep apnea affects a hormone that controls urine production. The hormone disturbance causes a condition called nocturia, where sleepers wake up with the desperate need to urinate several times a night. The more times a person wakes up, the more chances he or she has to recognize an urge to visit the bathroom.
What if you think you have sleep apnea?
If you worry you might not always be breathing and resting comfortably at night, Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot would like to see you at their Long Island dental office. With decades of experience in assessing and diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea, these leaders in sleep apnea treatment are ready to help you. Sometimes the answer is as cheap and easy as sleeping with a soft mouthpiece that keeps the tongue and jaw in a neutral position to keep airways open all night. Don’t sleep another night wondering and worrying. Come in for an examination!
Additional “dental treatment for sleep apnea” resources:
- Berkeley Wellness – 5 warning signs of sleep apnea, http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-mind/sleep/article/5-warning-signs-sleep-apnea
- Healthy and Natural World – Sleep apnea warning signs you should not ignore, http://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/sleep-apnea-warning-signs-you-should-not-ignore/
- National Institutes of Health – Sleep apnea signs, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea/signs
- SC Now – Sleep apnea signs, http://www.scnow.com/living/article_a3bbb818-dc0b-11e6-8bbf-7bd212527187.html
- Web MD – Sleep apnea clues, http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/features/sleep-apnea-clues#1
- NIH – Dry mouth upon awakening in obstructive sleep apnea, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16911034
- Alaska Sleep – Signs you might have sleep apnea, http://www.alaskasleep.com/blog/signs-you-might-have-sleep-apnea
- Sleep Disorders Guide – The statistics of sleep apnea, http://www.sleepdisordersguide.com/article/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea-statistics-the-statistics-of-sleep-apnea