Recognizing the Causes and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can take a major toll on your life but if you are not fully informed about the symptoms, the condition can go undiagnosed for years. (OSA) affects oxygen levels during sleep. In turn, you can experience ongoing fatigue, irritability, memory impairment, and many other debilitating symptoms. Undiagnosed OSA could even have major consequences for your overall health such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Stephen C. Ura of The Sleep Health Center at the Center for Dental Excellence is highly trained in treatment of the condition, and can explain the causes and symptoms of sleep apnea. Then, our experienced Nashua, NH, team will work with your physician to help provide effective care. Our highly effective treatment utilizes conservative techniques while working closely with your physician. Our approach to treating sleep apnea can dramatically alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Sleep Apnea: A Basic Overview

OSA causes your airways to constrict while you are asleep. The anatomy of your airways, as well as body composition, can have an impact as to how prone you are to sleep breathing disorder (SBD). As your body enters this deep state of relaxation, the soft tissues will block airflow. You will wake up repeatedly during the night to resume normal breathing.

There are different levels of sleep breathing disorders from snoring, with no airway obstruction to mild, moderate, or severe levels of OSA. Through the night, we have different levels in our sleep cycles, all of which have restorative and reparative effects on our body. One of the most important levels of sleep is rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that helps with our memory. You may not fully awaken but instead, you may simply move back to a lighter stage of sleep never allowing you to achieve REM sleep. To achieve an effective night's sleep, you need to have all stages of sleep to be fully rested. 

Underlying Causes of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can impact anyone, including both adults and children. There are certain factors that can lead to OSA and increase your risk for the condition:

  • Being overweight
  • Over the age of 35
  • Excessive drinking or smoking
  • Anatomical factors, such as a narrow throat circumference, enlarged tonsils, or enlarged adenoids

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Even if you have moderate to severe sleep apnea, you may not be aware that you are waking throughout the night. Chronic exhaustion and daytime sleepiness are two of the most telltale signs of OSA. Lack of sleep can also have emotional and mental effects. You may suffer from irritability, depression, mood swings, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating. Your interpersonal relationships and workplace performance may suffer, as well. In addition, because your body needs oxygen to function properly, you may experience a host of physical symptoms such as chronic headaches including those from teeth grinding. OSA has been associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Chronic exhaustion and daytime sleepiness are two of the most telling signs of sleep apnea. Lack of sleep can also have emotional and mental effects as well as having an impact on your cardiovascular system.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

In contrast, sleep apnea can sometimes cause very noticeable symptoms. Like many patients, you may wake up suddenly at night, often with shortness of breath or with a sharp gasp. Snoring is one of the hallmarks of the condition and many times, sleep apnea patients come to us because their spouses or other family members have complained about their loud snoring.

Dr. Ura will fully evaluate your concerns and lifestyle factors and then work with your physician to provide the most effective care. He will always address the underlying cause of your condition, and strive for maximum medical improvement. Typically, he will provide a non-invasive, custom oral appliance to open up your airways.

Contact Us for More Information

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that indicate sleep apnea, or would like to learn more about the causes of the condition, contact our office today. Timely treatment can provide a significant boost to your quality of life.