What Is Sleep Apnea?

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June 16, 2024

Do you experience breathing lapses while you sleep? Sleep apnea refers to a serious sleep disorder that’s characterized by multiple extended pauses in breath. Since this abnormal breathing significantly affects your body’s supply of oxygen, it’s best to ask your dentist about sleep apnea treatment in Las Vegas.

Since this condition can potentially lead to serious health complications such as high blood pressure and heart disease, knowing its types, causes, symptoms, and treatments is extremely important.


The Different Types of Sleep Apnea

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is marked by temporary lapses in breathing because of a physical blockage in the airway at the back of the throat. Statistics show that although OSA affects 2% to 9% of American adults, only a few are diagnosed. Although OSA is found much more frequently in men and older adults, it can affect anyone, regardless of their age or sex.
  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) occurs when breathing lapses result from a problem in the way the brain communicates with the muscles responsible for breathing. Furthermore, CSA affects about .9% of American adults who are 40 years old or over. Similar to OSA, CSA is also more common in men than in women.
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea or complex sleep apnea is a combination of both OSA and CSA


The Causes of Sleep Apnea

Family History

Having at least one or more close relatives who suffer from OSA increases a person’s chances of developing OSA themselves.

Smoking Tobacco

A person who uses tobacco products is more likely to develop OSA compared to a person who doesn’t smoke.


Aside from being one of the leading causes of OSA, being overweight is the underlying factor in up to 60% of these cases. Studies show that obesity leads to the anatomical narrowing of the airway. A 10% increase in weight can be equivalent to a sixfold increase of their OSA risk.

Anatomical Characteristics

OSA is mainly characterized by a blockage in an individual’s airway while they’re sleeping. For this reason, the airflow may be significantly affected by certain anatomical characteristics that involve the jaw, neck, tongue, tonsils, and tissue near the back of the throat.

Use of Sedatives

Since the tissue in the throat relaxes after taking sedative drugs and medications, the airway is likely to become obstructed.

Sleeping Position

When a person sleeps on their back, the tissue located near the back of their throat tends to collapse around their airway and block it.

Nasal Congestion

An individual’s chances for developing OSA increases when nasal congestion reduces their ability to breathe through their nose.

Hormone Abnormalities

Certain health conditions caused by hormone abnormalities may increase a person’s risk of OSA. These hormone conditions include acromegaly and hypothyroidism.

Underlying Medical Condition

A person who suffers a stroke, a brain tumor, or an infection in the brain may cause considerable damage to the brain stem. A damaged brain stem won’t be able to recognize the levels of carbon dioxide inside the person’s body. As a result, breathing becomes shallower and slower than how it should be.

Pain Medications

The normal breathing process can also be interfered with by the regular intake of medicines that include opioids.

High Altitudes

When a person is at a high altitude, their oxygen levels are thrown off. As this happens they may experience CSA.


The Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Aside from disrupted breathing during sleep, other symptoms of sleep apnea include the following:

  • Morning headaches
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Inability to focus
  • Dry mouth or morning sore throat
  • Nocturia or the frequent need to wake up to urinate
  • Loud snoring that may involve snorting, gasping, or choking that can briefly wake the
    person up.

Treatment Options

It’s difficult to treat sleep apnea if the root cause of the problem isn’t identified. Your doctor may recommend an overnight sleep study to analyze your breathing patterns. If you were diagnosed with OSA, your treatment plan will be focused on reducing your risks for developing long-term health conditions.

Specific recommendations will also be made, depending on your situation. For example, your doctor may advise you to sleep on your side, reduce your use of sedatives, or lose weight. You may also be instructed to use a bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to keep your airway open during sleep.

The use of dental appliances can also be the ideal treatment if you have mild to moderate OSA. They keep your upper airway open by preventing the base of your tongue from collapsing and blocking your airway.

Do You Need Sleep Apnea Treatment in Las Vegas?

If you’re one of the 22 million Americans who suffer from this sleep disorder, the dental care team at Dee for Dentist in Las Vegas is here to help you get relief. We can prescribe you a custom-fitted oral sleep appliance, you can reduce your daytime tiredness, improve the quality of your night sleep, and reduce your apneas. Contact our office today to schedule your appointment.

Request an Appointment Today

One phone call can help you get a brighter smile. The team at Dee for Dentist is here to answer all your questions. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!

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