What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that occurs during sleep that results in unusual breaks in the normal breathing rhythm. For many patients, they don’t even realize this pause has occurred. But for patients that suffer from extended periods where breathing has halted, there are options for treatment available that our oral surgeon can recommend to relieve sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can affect people of all ages. A child might have enlarged tonsils or adenoids which impact their ability to get a solid night’s sleep. Of course, the obvious resolution is to have the tonsils and adenoids removed to improve their quality of sleep.

Diagnosing sleep apnea for adults might be more difficult. There are symptoms such as snoring, awaking frequently during the night and chronic fatigue during the day pointing to a lack of sleep. However, just experiencing these symptoms does not provide a diagnosis. There are different types of sleep apnea with treatment options available for each.

Sleep apnea can occur when the tissue at the back of the throat relaxes creating a blockage in the airway. Or for some patients, their brain signals result in breathing cessation. It is possible to suffer from one or both of these conditions.

If you suspect you might be suffering from sleep apnea, but are not ready to seek professional help, a partner might be able to observe whether or not your interrupted sleep is caused by apnea or another cause.

Things you can try on your own to relieve your symptoms include:

  • Weight loss
  • Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Quit smoking
  • Sleep on your side or stomach
  • Exercise

If you do not experience relief, it is time to seek medical intervention. For example, sometimes medication taken for hypertension can interfere with sleep, so a change might offer improvement. Or it might be suggested you seek the advice of a sleep professional to determine a specific cause.

Once a diagnosis has been rendered, a consultation with our oral surgeon might be in order to discuss options available that will bring relief.  Research continues to make improvements to the various treatments available for sleep apnea.

But one thing is certain. Sleep apnea can be life altering for the sufferer and their partner.  A diagnosis with follow up treatment can result in a restful and healthier life for all.

For more information on sleep apnea and to schedule your consultation in Newmarket ON, contact Ford Moore Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at 905-853-3727.


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