Don’t Ignore the Snore: Sleep Apnea Poses a Serious Health Threat

Did you know that snoring is the most common warning sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Sometimes snoring is a simple annoyance, nothing more than a consequence of having a deviated septum, enlarged tonsils or another anatomical issue in the nose or throat. Snoring can also be related to aging, respiratory illness, excess weight or having a nightcap before bed.

In many cases, however, snoring points to obstructive sleep apnea, a serious and potentially life-threatening disorder.

Signs that you might have obstructive sleep apnea

Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea

OSA sufferers experience breathing interruptions during sleep due to a narrowing or blockage of their airway. The repeated stops and starts decrease the amount of oxygen in the blood, which puts the body under stress and causes the heart to work harder.

Untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of several dangerous health problems, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes

In addition, OSA can lead to problems with concentration, which can negatively affect your work performance and increase the risk of workplace accidents. This sleep disorder creates a danger on the roads, too, as drivers with untreated OSA are at risk of falling asleep at the wheel.

Other Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea

Loud, habitual snoring is just one of the warning signs of OSA. Other common symptoms include:

    • Choking or gasping sounds during sleep
    • Frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom
    • Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat
    • Morning headaches
    • Excessive daytime sleepiness
    • Moodiness or irritability
    • Memory loss
    • Decreased sexual desire

If you suffer from one or more of these OSA symptoms, contact an experienced oral surgeon for a professional evaluation as soon as possible.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

The best treatment for OSA varies from patient to patient. Strategies used to successfully treat this sleep disorder include:

Lifestyle changes
Losing weight, avoiding alcohol before bedtime and sleeping on your side — instead of your stomach or back — can benefit some OSA patients.

Positive airway pressure therapy
OSA treatment often involves the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. With proper use, the machine prevents the airway from collapsing during sleep.

Oral appliance therapy
In some cases, wearing an oral or dental appliance is an effective OSA treatment. The device repositions and stabilizes the lower jaw and tongue to keep the airway open.

Oral surgery
Oral surgery to permanently enlarge the airway can put an end to the sleep disorder, eliminating the need for a CPAP machine or dental appliance. Oral surgeons tailor treatment to the area of obstruction, and surgery may involve any of the structures in the nose, mouth, throat and jaw.

If you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, schedule a professional evaluation with an oral surgeon who has experience treating this sleep disorder. In the greater Salt Lake City area, turn to Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah.

With three convenient northern Utah offices in Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan and Tooele, making an appointment at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah couldn’t be easier. Contact us today to schedule a professional evaluation for obstructive sleep apnea.