May 12, 2019
Snoring can be more than just an annoyance for others; it can also be a sign of sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition that affects your breathing during sleep. While it can have many different causes – sleeping posture, alcohol consumption, sleep deprivation – there is one health factor that can put you at higher risk: your weight. Here’s how weight problems can be linked to sleep apnea in Marysville.
What is Sleep Apnea?
With sleep apnea, a person’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea that occurs when something partially or completely blocks the upper airway, meaning the diaphragm and the chest must work harder to keep the airflow going. This can contribute to cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks.
In addition to snoring, symptoms include waking up with very dry mouth or throat, daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, recurrent awakenings (sometimes with a gasping or choking sensation), and forgetfulness.
How is Weight Linked to Sleep Apnea?
Weight is considered a major risk factor for sleep apnea. The Obesity Medicine Association believes that roughly 45% of overweight individuals have sleep apnea; furthermore, about 70% of patients with obstructive sleep apnea suffer from obesity. This could be due to the accumulation of fat in the neck.
Interestingly, sleep apnea may also be a contributor to weight gain. This is often attributed to sleepiness during the day, which leads to decreased physical activity. Also, sleeping poorly can lead to heightened production of hormones that influence appetite.
How Can Sleep Apnea Be Treated?
Sometimes, in mild cases, sleep apnea can be treated simply by losing weight. Sleeping on your side and avoiding alcohol and tobacco can also help.
In other cases, more professional treatment may be required. An oral appliance can often be used to adjust the jaw forward slightly so that the throat muscles remain tensed and keep the airway clear. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines that deliver a continuous flow of air are another option, although many patients may find them loud and uncomfortable.
If you’ve been told about snoring or interrupted breathing while you sleep, you should seek a professional opinion right away. Many dentists offer ways to deal with sleep apnea; it’d be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the services offered. Bear in mind that the negative effects of sleep apnea are cumulative, so it’s important to start treatment quickly!
About the Author
Dr. Katie Montgomery has been practicing dentistry for over 12 years. She has completed numerous continuing education courses (including at the prestigious Dawson Academy dental school) and has been named a member of the advisory board for New Dentist Magazine. She offers oral appliances for patients suffering from sleep apnea. To make an appointment at her practice, Montgomery Family Dental, visit her website or call (937) 642-1151.
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