Sleep apnea, also called obstructive sleep apnea or OSA, is a medical condition that affects millions of men and women, occurring when the soft tissues at the back of the throat descend into the airway, blocking breathing and interrupting sleep many times each night – sometimes dozens of times. Most interruptions are very brief and aren't severe enough to cause wakefulness; as a result, many men and women may not realize they have sleep apnea.
Snoring is one of the most recognizable symptoms associated with obstructive sleep apnea, but not everyone who has apnea will snore, and snoring is not always an indicator of sleep apnea. Other symptoms that might indicate you have obstructive sleep apnea include:
lack of productivity
sleepiness when driving
decreased sex drive
difficulty focusing or concentrating
waking up gasping or choking
If you suspect you have obstructive sleep apnea, it's important to talk to Dr. Sporer about your symptoms.
Sleep apnea has been linked with an alarming array of health issues, including increased risks for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease and depression. Lack of restorative sleep associated with sleep apnea has also been linked with a higher risk for motor vehicle accidents.
Sleep apnea can be treated in several ways, including surgery. Many patients can be successfully treated using a special mouth guard that gently shifts the lower jaw forward during sleep, keeping the airway open so breathing is not interrupted. Ask Dr. Sporer how you can tell if you might have sleep apnea and whether a mouth guard or other treatment might help ensure you get a good night's sleep.
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