#ItsMoreThanSnoring What is Sleep Apnea & Why Should I Be Concerned?

Snoring. No one likes it. It’s loud, and for the most part, rather obnoxious and oftentimes can become an issue between partners sleeping in the same bed. When most people think of snoring, they normally associate it with the previous sentence: loud and annoying. However, what most people don’t understand is that for many, it’s more than snoring: It’s a potentially life shortening condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

So, what is Sleep Apnea?

The Greek word “apnea” literally means “without breath.” Sleep apnea is an involuntary cessation of breath while the patient is asleep. What often happens is when one is asleep, the soft tissue in and around the throat, including the tongue, relax and then collapse in on the airway.

The obstructed airway is what causes the snoring sound. But the larger issue here is that the body is not breathing properly, and during an apnea event, the person will stop breathing. A more serious indication of sleep apnea outside of just snoring is when someone gasps for breath during sleep. This is almost always sleep apnea. For some people, these apnea events can happen hundreds of times throughout the night.

The main problem with sleep apnea is that the body is not properly oxygenating itself and not properly ridding the body of carbon dioxide. When you inhale, you breathe in much needed oxygen and when you exhale, you purge toxic carbon dioxide. Those who suffer from sleep apnea are severely disrupting this much needed body function.

When left untreated, sleep apnea can have dire consequences: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, daytime fatigue, increased chance of car accidents, diabetes, depression and weight gain. Even recent studies show links to various forms of cancer, including brain cancer.

It is currently estimated that between 18 to 22 million Americans suffer from OSA, and more than 80% of them have not been officially diagnosed, having no idea about the terrible toll this disease is taking on their bodies.

In the #ItsMoreThanSnoring campaign, we will be sharing a series of articles that highlight the various health problems associated with sleep apnea. We will also explore the most important aspect: quality sleep and what it means for your body when you don’t get enough of it. Sleep is just as essential to living as breathing, drinking and eating are. Go without it for too long, and you will surely pass away.

Here at Somerville Dental Sleep Medicine, we are committed to helping people treat this condition and achieve quality, restorative sleep. If you think you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment, and if you’re reading this on social media, we encourage you to share this information. It’s a shame that so many people suffer needlessly from this condition and have no idea they have it.

Dental sleep medicine can provide non-invasive solutions for disruptive snoring. By wearing a special mouthguard-like oral appliance during sleep, many people are able to reduce or eliminate their snoring and prevent apnea events from occuring.

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