Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments

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Sleep apnea is a condition which can cause dangerously low oxygen levels in the body while we sleep. There are two kinds of sleep apnea. The first is referred to as obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs when loose tissues drape or fall over the breathing tube when a patient is asleep. This is associated with snoring and coughing during the night when a lack of oxygen jolts a patient awake for long enough to uncover the airway. This can occur hundreds of times throughout the night without the patient knowing, which results in patients never getting any deep (REM) sleep. Instead, they wake in the morning feeling exhausted despite having been ‘sleeping’ the whole night through.

The second form of sleep apnea is called central apnea. Central apnea occurs as a result of a hormone condition that stops the breathing trigger from reaching the brain. In other words, the impulse to breathe while sleeping is insufficient or totally absent. If you think that you could be suffering from sleep apnea, see your dental clinic in Edmonton to begin your investigation.

Causes

Although there is no known cause of central sleep apnea, sufferers do tend to have a large tongue and small jaw.  Weight gain is the primary cause of obstructive sleep apnea. As fat deposits develop around the face and neck, tissues weigh heavier on the windpipe and are more likely to interrupt breathing.

Sleep Hygiene

Before you decide that you need to see a professional about sleep apnea in Edmonton, we recommend that you first address any sleep hygiene gaps. Sleep hygiene refers to how you prepare your body for sleep each night. While oral hygiene would refer to items like brushing and flossing, sleep hygiene deals more with the conditions that support your best sleep.

When preparing for sleep, you should abstain from eating after dinner. If you tend to wake up in the night to use the bathroom, consider having nothing to drink after dinner, too. Even if you eliminate one bathroom trip at night, your sleep will have improved slightly.

In the hour before you go to bed, begin turning lights down and refrain from screens. While the light of a screen motivates the brain, subtle lighting signals to your brain that the sun is going down and it’s time for sleep. So, rather than crawl into bed to watch your phone screen, park devices outside of the room at night and read instead. Use blackout window coverings to keep your room as dark as possible at night.

If you sleep on your back, consider a different sleeping position and use pillows between your knees as needed. This takes the weight and pressure off the airway, making it easier to draw air and minimizing the likelihood of snoring. 

What can you do?

Minimize alcohol consumption

               When you drink alcohol, the body goes into a relaxed state, including the muscles of the throat which can block the airway. Breathing becomes shallow after consuming alcohol, and the drive to breathe slows down. The combination of these symptoms leads to low oxygen levels and increased time between breaths. Patients who suffer from sleep apnea should avoid consuming alcohol.  

Treating Allergies

               When the body is responding to allergens, it commonly produces inflammation in the sinus cavity which can block nasal passages. When these passages are blocked, mouth breathing begins which typically leads to snoring. Treating allergies may not directly stop apnea, but it can contribute to the cessation of snoring. Your family dentist in Edmonton may refer you back to your family doctor to tackle your allergies.

Weight Loss

If weight gain is affecting your sleep quality, it is likely impacting other aspects of your life, too. In the long term, weight loss can reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea by decreasing the demands placed on the airway while at rest, but short-term solutions should also be explored. At Viva Dental Wellness and the Snore Centre in Edmonton, we partner with you in your sleep apnea treatment to improve your sleep quality as our first priority no matter where you are in your wellness journey. As a dentist in south Edmonton, we understand that commuting can be a challenge. That’s why we are conveniently located near Anthony Henday.

Even the best dental clinic with the best dentist in southside Edmonton can only do so much for a sleep apnea patient before a sleep apnea clinic in Edmonton should be sought. Why not skip the line and get started with Viva Dental Wellness today? South Edmonton residents can find us by searching ‘dentist near me on Google or by searching ‘snoring treatment Edmonton’ and choosing the Snore Centre. Want to get even more specific with your search? Try ‘dentist in Windermere’, dentist southside Edmonton, or other combinations of search terms to help you find sleep apnea treatment in Edmonton.

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