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Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous? What You Need to Know

A man snoring during sleep

You don’t realize how crucial a good night’s rest is until you start waking up exhausted every morning. If your nights are filled with tossing, turning, and constant awakenings, it might be more than just a bad night – it could be sleep apnea. Is sleep apnea dangerous? How can it affect your overall well-being? Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night. The lack of oxygen causes a trigger response, and you find yourself waking up just in time to take your next breath. In most cases, it happens as a result of restricted airways, but it’s not the only culprit behind this sleep-related disorder. 

What Are the Two Main Types of Sleep Apnea?

If the airways become restricted because of relaxed throat muscles, we’re talking about obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). On the other hand, if it’s caused by a neurological issue, this is known as central sleep apnea (CSA). 

If you’re starting to get overwhelmed by restless nights, you might be wondering – is central sleep apnea dangerous? How serious is OSA? How do I know which condition I’m dealing with? The answer to these questions is the same – it all depends. Once you’ve reserved a dentist’s appointment, you’ll be able to know all of the details, and your sleep apnea treatment can begin promptly. 

What Are the Main Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), around 39 million Americans are dealing with OSA. This number is only an estimate, as a good chunk of these cases are left undiagnosed.

Untreated sleep apnea can cause plenty of problems in the long run, so make sure you consult a professional as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Waking up multiple times during the night, 
  • Waking up gasping or choking,
  • Loud snoring,
  • Insomnia, 
  • Night sweats, 
  • Excessive daytime fatigue (hypersomnia), 
  • Mood swings and troubles with focus and memory. 
Woman blocking her ears while her husband is snoring
According to research, 94% of OSA patients are excessive snorers

An In-Depth Look – Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

As already mentioned, the best way to figure out if your condition is serious is by visiting your Charlotte, NC, dentist. During your appointment, you will be able to talk about the symptoms you’re experiencing with a professional. 

Whether the condition is high-risk or not depends on various factors, including the number of times it happens during the night, as well as if you’re dealing with any other health conditions. To better understand how severe your OSA is, a sleep study can be conducted. It’s measured in the average number of apnea events each hour. Here is the scale:

  • Mild – between 5 and 15 times, 
  • Moderate – between 15 and 29, 
  • Severe – more than 30 times. 

So, is mild sleep apnea dangerous? Well, it’s certainly better than dealing with severe OSA. However, that doesn’t mean you should leave mild cases untreated, especially if you’re dealing with other health conditions that could lead to further complications.

Which Health Conditions Can Be Worsened With OSA?

We all know that regular exercise and a healthy diet are the pillars of good health. However, sleep is crucial, too. With frequent interruptions, OSA can prevent you from getting a good night’s rest, potentially resulting in other issues down the road. 

Here are the most common health conditions that can be negatively impacted by OSA (and vice versa):

  • High blood pressure, 
  • Ischemic stroke, 
  • Heart disease, 
  • Heart failure, 
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Excess weight, 
  • Metabolic syndrome,
  • Adult asthma, 
  • Acid reflux. 

It Can Seriously Disrupt Your Daily Routine

Beyond these specific health conditions, OSA can affect your overall well-being. It makes perfect sense – if you’re not getting enough rest during the night, you’ll start feeling it in the waking hours. Excessive sleepiness during the day (hypersomnia), mood swings, and troubles with focus and memory can significantly disrupt your routine.

Moreover, in certain situations, such as when you’re driving your car, you’re obviously putting yourself at risk. That’s why it’s crucial to consult a professional as soon as possible, even if you feel like you’ve got everything under control.

People talking to the receptionist at a dentist's office
Visit your dentist to figure out how you can treat this condition

Treatment Options – How Your Charlotte Dentist in South Park Can Help

Now that we’ve covered the potential dangers of leaving your OSA untreated, let’s discuss the solutions. As this condition is most commonly caused by the soft tissues of the throat restricting your airways, a dental professional can help. Treatment options include the following:

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines – these devices help keep your airway open during sleep by providing a continuous stream of air, 
  • Custom-fitted oral appliances – your dentist in Charlotte, NC, can customize special oral appliances, such as a mandibular advancement device (MAD), to help you breathe, 
  • Advanced laser dentistry – with the help of innovative techniques and equipment, including Fotona’s NightLaseⓇ and Solea Sleep, the tissues in your throat can tighten, alleviating OSA symptoms. 

It’s Time to Take Action – You Deserve a Good Night’s Rest

If you’re noticing symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s not the time to play a guessing game about how serious your condition is. You should take action and consult a professional. Led by Dr. Sladjana Bjelac, our team at Aspire Dental Wellness is dedicated to providing effective treatment options and making the most out of what laser dentistry has to offer. Contact us today and let’s craft the journey of reclaiming your sleep – restful mornings can stop being a distant memory!

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