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What Is Sleep Apnea and How Is It Treated?

Do you wake up every morning tired instead of refreshed? You may have sleep apnea, a condition affects more than 18 million people, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Our Waynesville, NC, dentist, Dr. Michael Gillespie, shares a few signs of sleep apnea and explains what you can do to treat the condition.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing while you sleep. The breathing pauses are usually short, lasting no more than a few seconds to a minute. These pauses occur hundreds of times throughout the night and deprive your brain and body of oxygen. Untreated sleep apnea has been linked with serious conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, heart failure, depression, diabetes or an irregular heartbeat.

How can I tell if I have sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea causes multiple symptoms, some of which may not seem to be initially related to breathing pauses. Typical sleep apnea symptoms include:

  • Loud Snoring: Do your family or roommates complain about your snoring or have you woken yourself up due to the loud noises you produce at night? Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, although it’s possible to snore without having the condition.
  • Gasping or Jerking: People who have sleep apnea often gasp for breath or jerk awake during the night. These actions are your body’s attempt to restart your breathing.
  • Morning Headache: Oxygen deprivation can cause a headache that usually goes away about an hour after you wake up.
  • Mouth and Throat Symptoms: A sore throat and dry mouth may be an indication that you have sleep apnea, particularly if these symptoms improve as the day goes on.
  • Fatigue: Do you feel tired all the time, have difficulty concentrating or feel irritable? All of these symptoms can occur if you’re not getting enough sleep at night due to breathing pauses.

How is sleep apnea treated?

A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is the standard treatment for sleep apnea. The machine sends a constant stream of air into your throat, which keeps your airway open. Although CPAP machines are certainly effective, not everyone can tolerate them. We offer a more comfortable, low-tech option in our Waynesville office that is very helpful in treating sleep apnea symptoms. The custom-made oral appliance moves your lower jaw forward and repositions your tongue, ensuring that your airway remains open while you sleep.

Are you looking for an alternative to CPAP machines? Find out if an oral appliance is a good option for you by calling (828) 456-9007 to schedule an appointment with Waynesville, NC, dentist, Dr. Gillespie.

Michael D. Gillespie, DDS

Michael D. Gillespie, DDS