Questions About Sleep Apnea

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What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that affects millions of Americans nationwide. A person with sleep apnea repeatedly stops breathing for an interval of ten seconds or more while he or she is sleeping. These repeated intervals of non-breathing can have drastic effects on your health if left untreated.

What causes sleep apnea?

There are two types of sleep apnea, and each one is caused by slightly different factors. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This type of apnea is caused when your upper airway becomes blocked by excess tissue. The obstruction can be located in your nasal passages, or it can be caused by the structure of your jaw and airway.

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is less common. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a blocked airway, CSA is caused when your brain fails to send the appropriate signals to your breathing muscles. Your respirations are therefore not initiated properly, leading to lengthy intervals of non-breathing.

If I snore, do I have sleep apnea?

Loud snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, since it occurs when your throat’s muscles relax during sleep, narrowing and partially obstructing your airway. However, chronic snoring along does not indicate the presence of sleep apnea. Many people who snore do not have this condition.

The only way to be certain whether or not you are afflicted with sleep apnea is to visit an experienced sleep apnea dentist like Dr. Terry Bass. He can test you for the presence of this disorder and provide treatment if necessary.

How is sleep apnea treated?

For patients with minor sleep apnea, sleep apnea treatment may involve simple behavioral changes, such as weight loss or sleeping on your side. If this does not help, oral appliances and CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) can be used to help you find relief from the symptoms of interrupted breathing and snoring. More severe sleep apnea cases might require surgery.

If you have further questions about sleep apnea or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact Terry Bass, DDS, online or call 405-622-8996 today. Our office serves patients throughout Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas, including Edmond, Lawton, and Norman.