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Sleep apnea is a common but serious sleep disorder that affects many people. It’s characterized by repeated stoppages in breathing during sleep, disrupting your rest and potentially causing serious health complications. At Mooney Dental in Woburn, MA, we’re committed to offering effective treatment options for people with sleep apnea, empowering you to rest easier and live healthier.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which an individual’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. This could result in the brain and the rest of the body not getting enough oxygen, leading to various health problems such as heart disease and advanced heart failure. Sleep apnea is more than just snoring or feeling tired during the day – untreated sleep apnea a serious condition that requires medical attention. Sleep apnea is most often diagnosed through a sleep study.
Sleep Apnea Treatment in Woburn, MA
Sleep Apnea Treatment in Woburn, MA

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three main types of sleep apnea: 
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): The most common form, OSA occurs when the throat muscles relax, blocking the airway during sleep.
  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): In CSA, the brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing, causing pauses in breathing.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome: Also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, this condition occurs when someone has both OSA and CSA.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: When you’re asleep, the muscles in your throat can relax too much, leading to a narrowed or completely closed air passage. When this happens, you can’t get enough air, and the lack of oxygen triggers your brain to wake you up so you can reopen your airway. This pattern can repeat five to 30 times (or more) each hour, all night long.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: Unlike OSA, the issue isn’t a blocked airway but rather that your brain fails to send signals to your breathing muscles. You may awaken with shortness of breath or have a difficult time getting to sleep or staying asleep.

Signs and Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep witnessed by another person
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Difficulty paying attention while awake
  • Irritability

Risk Factors

Factors that increase the risk of sleep apnea include:

  • Excess weight: Obesity significantly increases the risk of sleep apnea, as fat deposits around the upper airway may obstruct breathing.
  • Neck circumference: Those with thicker necks might have narrower airways, leading to increased risk.
  • Age: Sleep apnea occurs significantly more frequently in older adults.
  • Family history: Having family members with sleep apnea might increase your risk.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption or the use of sedatives or tranquilizers: These substances relax the muscles in your throat.
  • Smoking: Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than people who’ve never smoked.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP Therapy)

This is the most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea in adults. A CPAP machine delivers air pressure through a mask while you sleep, keeping your upper airway passages open, preventing snoring and apnea.

Oral Appliance Therapy

Designed to keep your throat open and increase oxygen levels, these oral devices can help some people with mild to moderate sleep apnea.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to medical treatments, certain lifestyle modifications can help manage symptoms of mild sleep apnea:
  • Positional Therapy: Certain sleep positions can make sleep apnea worse. Sometimes, changing your sleep position can help prevent airway obstructions and reduce symptoms.
  • Weight Loss: Maintaining a healthy weight can significantly improve or even eliminate your sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can help ease symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea even without weight loss.
  • Healthy Diet: Consuming a balanced, nutritious diet can help improve overall health and wellbeing, which can indirectly influence sleep apnea.
  • Limiting Alcohol and Quitting Smoking: Both alcohol and smoking can exacerbate sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Good Sleep Hygiene: Establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a restful environment, and avoiding caffeine and electronics before bed can also help manage symptoms.

Surgery

Several surgical procedures are available, including soft tissue removal, tissue shrinkage, nerve stimulation, and others. Surgery is typically the last resort after other treatments have failed.

Take the First Step Towards Better Sleep Today!

If you or a loved one is suffering from sleep-disordered breathing, don’t wait. Contact us at Mooney Dental in Woburn, MA. Our team of experts is ready to help you get the restful sleep you need and deserve. Better sleep leads to a healthier, happier life.

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