Do you go to bed at a reasonable hour but still find it difficult to stay awake during the day? Daytime drowsiness is one of the often overlooked signs of sleep apnea, a condition that affects more than 18 million Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Dr. Randall Hiers, Dr. Christopher Morrow and Dr. David Miller of Eastern Shore Smile Solutions in Easton and Cambridge, MD, share common signs of sleep apnea and discuss treatment options.
How can I tell if I have sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea can cause a range of symptoms including:
- Snoring: You may not realize that you snore, but if you live with other people, you've probably heard a few complaints. Loud snoring is one of the most common signs of sleep apnea.
- Breathing Pauses: Sleep apnea causes frequent breathing pauses that deprive your brain of oxygen. The pauses can last 20 seconds or longer and may occur as frequently as 30 times an hour. If you don't receive treatment for your condition, you may eventually develop high blood pressure, heart attacks, abnormal heart rhythms or type 2 diabetes.
- Gasping and Choking: Gasping and choking ends breathing pauses and restores normal breathing. If you wake up frequently during the night due to gasping and choking episodes, sleep apnea may be the reason.
- Morning Headaches: People who have sleep apnea may wake up with headaches. As the day goes on, the headache usually goes away.
- Fatigue-Related Issues: When you don't get enough sleep due to breathing pauses, you may feel very tired during the day. Fatigue can affect your driving and your ability to concentrate at work. Not surprisingly, chronic fatigue may also make you feel irritable.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Doctors offer recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to treat sleep apnea. The machine forces a constant flow of air into your throat, preventing it from closing while you sleep. Although the treatment is effective, it can be difficult to get used to wearing a CPAP mask. You or your spouse or significant other may also be disturbed by the noise of the machine.
We offer a more low-tech, but extremely effective alternative in our Easton and Cambridge offices. We can fit you with an oral appliance that moves your jaw forward and helps keep your airway open. The comfortable device fits over your teeth and is inserted just before you go to bed.
Treating your sleep apnea can help you avoid serious health issues. Call Dr. Hiers, Dr. Morrow and Dr. Miller of Eastern Shore Smile Solutions in Easton and Cambridge, MD, at (443) 205-4757 to schedule your appointment.