Mood swings, irritability, food cravings, brain fog: These are all symptoms of sleepless nights. But one other symptom — frustration — might arise when you just can’t understand why you still feel tired after what you thought was a full night of sleep.
A likely culprit? Sleep apnea, which can cause you to wake up many times throughout the night without even knowing it. While you may not initially look to your dentist when thinking about a sleep disorder, At Cityview Dental Arts in Chicago, IL, Jerome Bock, DDS treats patients with sleep apnea because the condition often starts in the mouth.
In this blog, we give you information about sleep apnea, its potential dangers, and how to tell if you have it.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that involves multiple brief pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses are known as “apneas,” and they occur because your airways temporarily become blocked. There are three types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive sleep apnea
The most common type, obstructive sleep apnea involves physical blockage of your airways, usually because of lax throat tissue.
Central sleep apnea
This type of sleep apnea starts with the nervous system, and it occurs when your brain fails to signal the muscles that control breathing while you sleep.
Complex sleep apnea syndrome
Also called treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, this condition occurs when you show signs of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Potential complications of sleep apnea
If left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious health effects throughout your entire body. Some complications of sleep apnea include:
- Memory loss
- Confusion and brain fog
- Acid reflux and heartburn
- Inhibited immune system
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular issues
- Poor liver health
- High cholesterol
- Low blood oxygen
- High blood sugar
- Chronic fatigue
How to tell if you have sleep apnea
You can’t self-diagnose sleep apnea. The process requires a thorough health exam, health history, and testing either supervised by a doctor or done at home as directed by a doctor. But you can certainly look out for some signs and symptoms of sleep apnea.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Very loud or consistent snoring (you may wake yourself up, or your bed partner may tell you this is happening)
- Choking or gasping during sleep
- Daytime fatigue and sleepiness
- Difficulty focusing during the day
- Decreased productivity
- Mood swings and irritability
- Difficulty waking up in the morning
- Feeling unrefreshed in the morning
- Nocturia (frequently waking up to use the bathroom at night)
If you notice any of these sleep apnea symptoms, you should get evaluated by a health professional. To learn more about sleep apnea, call Cityview Dental Arts at (309) 432-5483 or request an appointment online.