Loud snoring could be a sign of possible sleep apnea. Snoring results from the relaxing of throat musculature and the tongue falling back and blocking the throat. This incomplete closure allows air to pass through the small opening and vibrates creating the snoring sound. As we age, our muscles relax and add weight to the throat area create snoring. Sometimes the airway is completely blocked by the tongue and our breathing can be cut off for 10 seconds or more leading to apnea or hypopneas. This sets off a set of events to try to wake the patient to breathe. The heart is triggered to release peptides and the brain releases hormones in order for us to begin breathing again. These events stress our bodies over and over throughout the night leading to exhaustion in the morning.
Some other symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are as follows:
- Snoring that is loud
- Gasping or choking sounds
- Breathing pauses observed by someone watching you sleep
- Sudden or jerky body movements
- Restless tossing and turning
- Frequent awakenings from sleep
Lack of sleep can cause you to fall asleep while driving and result in car accidents. Periods of stopping breathing can, with time, cause high blood pressure(hypertension), heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus or early death.
Having a home sleep test diagnosed by a physician is the easiest way to determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea. If it is a mild to moderate case it can be treated with an oral device that stops snoring and reduces the times a person quits breathing during the night. This is a treatment that is as reliable as the CPAP machine. A trained dentist in dental sleep medicine can screen a patient to determine if the oral device is best for you.
Dr. Laura B. Ousley has been trained to be a qualified dentist for dental sleep medicine and would be glad to perform a screening exam or answer any questions there may be. If you live in Oklahoma City, OK, we welcome you to call our team at 405-755-4450 today to learn more or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ousley!