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Who hasn’t held their breath as a personal test or to get their way? It’s hard not to laugh sometimes when a stubborn child threatens to stop breathing and puffs out their cheeks in a moment of defiance. Veteran parents know they’ll either get tired of the game or pass out for a few minutes. Either way, they’ll learn their lesson. It’s anything but a laughing matter when breathing halts during your sleeping hours, yet sleep apnea affects about 18 million Americans Fortunately, your Red Bank New Jersey dentist can put your worries to rest.

What Is Sleep Apnea? 

When we sleep, the air passages connecting out nasal passages to the lungs are supposed to be open and clear so air and carbon dioxide can move freely. If that airway collapses due to any number of health issues, it becomes somewhat obstructed. At that point, air has a hard time reaching the lungs. Breathing becomes staggered and snoring often occurs. Many people think snoring is an obvious sign of sleep apnea, but that’s not necessarily true.

Snoring may signal a warning that you’re at risk, but apnea occurs when the airway becomes completely blocked. The brain requires oxygen to function, so when it realizes it’s not getting any, it jars you awake. Sometimes the breathing begins with a harsh gasp. Normal breathing restarts and the cycle continues with the apnea sufferer experiencing up to 100 blockages per hour.

What Are Some Common Signs and Symptoms of the Disorder?

Loud snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, but not everyone who snores has apnea.

There are three types of sleep apnea. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, and that’s signified by loud snoring. Central sleep apnea is far less common as it involves the central nervous symptom. Those with central sleep apnea have longer pauses in air function as the muscles in the throat fail to signal the brain, but they rarely snore. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of the two, and that can become quite scary for the apnea sufferer.

Apnea is a serious disorder as it severely affects the quality of sleep, and studies upon studies have proven the dangers of sleep deprivation. You may simply wake up sluggish and have a hard time staying awake during the day. Those who snore may awaken with a dry mouth, sore throat, or morning headaches. Frequent nighttime bathroom breaks are common. Insomnia, restlessness, mood changes and even impotency are also regular signs that you’re suffering from sleep apnea Red Bank NJ.

This specific condition is often brought upon by lifestyle, but it can affect anyone from small children to the elderly. It can also be genetic. Still, many simple changes can help or even correct it if it’s caught in time. Losing weight will do wonders to reduce the pressure on the windpipe. Regular exercise helps improve sleep quality. Limiting caffeine and maintaining regular sleep hours is an effective solution. Sleeping on your side, propping your head in bed, and performing various mouth exercises also helps some people. However, if ignored too long, sleep apnea can cause chronic depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure, stroke, or even heart disease. The good news is that it’s often easily treated.

How Can Your Red Bank New Jersey Dentist Help? 

There is no way to self-diagnose sleep apnea since it happens while you’re unconscious, and it’s not diagnosed via blood tests. However, your dentist can readily tell if you do have sleep apnea with a simple exam. Three corrective solutions may be applied to your situation to correct or control your sleep issues. Your dentist may first try oral appliance therapy by prescribing a mandibular repositioning device or tongue retaining device to be worn during sleeping hours. A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device (CPAP) is a highly effective method that might be recommended. A CPAP mask fits right over the nose and mouth and gently blows air in as you sleep, reducing and even eliminating apnea altogether. However, if neither of those work, surgery may be the only viable option. If worrying about sleep apnea is keeping you up at night, contact your Red Bank New Jersey dental specialist today to rest easily again.