What is Sleep Apnea?

By 2 Min Read

Posted Jul 8th, 2020 in News


You have likely heard the term sleep apnea, but what does that really mean? Well, apnea is a Greek word that literally means “without breath.” Sleep apnea is the term used to describe interruptions to breathing during sleep.

There are three kinds of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed.

Types of Sleep Apnea Explained

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type, and it is caused by a partial or complete blockage of the airway during sleep. This restriction of air can often jolt you awake. Those with severe obstructive sleep apnea can experience this up to 30 times in a single hour!

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles responsible for managing breath. While obstructive sleep apnea can be thought of as a mechanical issue, central sleep apnea is considered more of a communication issue.

Mixed Sleep Apnea

You may have guessed it – mixed sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea symptoms.

You might be surprised to learn that millions of people experience sleep apnea, including many who aren’t even aware they have sleep apnea. Symptoms are not always obvious and can vary from person to person. Often someone with sleep apnea may snore extremely loud, experience persistent daytime sleepiness, feel irritable, or wake up in the morning with a dry mouth or a headache. Does this sound like you?

Symptoms to Look For

If symptoms vary by person, how can you be sure you have sleep apnea? Start asking yourself if you experience more than a few of these common symptoms regularly.

Loud Snoring

Has your partner, a family member, or friend ever suggested you snore extremely loud?

Waking Up Abruptly

Do you often wake up with a choking or gasping sensation?

Low Energy

Do you often feel restless during the day?

Morning Headaches

Do you frequently wake up with a headache or develop a headache as the morning progresses?

Restless Sleep or Insomnia

Are you having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep night after night?

Decreased Libido

Have you experienced reduced sexual desire?

Mood Changes or Forgetfulness

Do you commonly forget things you once remembered or experience unexplained mood changes?

When left untreated, sleep apnea can be associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, and other ailments. But the good news is, once diagnosed, sleep apnea is very treatable!

Why See a Dentist?

Dentists are a key resource for your oral health and therefore your overall health. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms a dentist can help you diagnose if this is truly sleep apnea. Don’t wait any longer to see how your dentist can help you get a better night’s sleep.


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