Are you sleeping well? – Dr Tan Mh
Have you experience a full night of sleep yet waking up sleepy and lethargic?
Well once a while it might be due to a long week, but if occurs on a regular basis, you might be experiencing some form of SLEEP APNEA!
What is sleep apnea?
It is a potentially serious sleep disorder where breathing is repeatedly stop and start during sleep. This will cause disruption in deep sleep, causing people with this condition to be constantly sleep deprived.
There are a few types of sleep apnea, basically:
- Obstructive sleep apnea where your airway is blocked as your throat muscle relax during sleep.
- Central sleep apnea where your brain does not send appropriate signals to the breathing muscles during sleep.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome where there is mixture of both of the above.
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
Chronic snoring is a strong indicator of sleep apnea, your partner may be able to tell you more about this.
Since sleep apnea causes people to be sleep deprived, symptoms can be such as daytime fatigue, difficulty in concentrating, depression, irritability, sexual dysfunction, learning and memory difficulties, and falling asleep while at work or driving (microsleep).
Some of these symptoms can be dangerous. For example, microsleeps during driving can cause fatal accidents!
Some common risk factors are:
- Excess weight, due to fat deposits that can obstruct your airway
- Smaller neck circumference or congenitally narrowed airway (Larger tonsils or adenoid, particularly in children)
- Being male
- Being older
- Family history
- Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers
- Smoking, by increasing the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway
- Nasal congestion
- Use of narcotics pain medication
Complications besides just being sleep deprived?
As if being sleep deprived is not enough, sleep apnea can cause many more complications.
Some complications include the spectrum of metabolic syndrome like high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, high blood sugar and an increased waist circumference and higher risk of heart disease.
As the body cannot repair adequately, sleep apnea can also cause liver problems.
And on top of that, it can also cause your spouse to be cranky because he/she will be sleep deprived from your snores!
What should I do?
Traditionally, sleep apnea is managed by Ear Nose and Throat surgeons, hence, getting a consultation to find out which type of sleep apnea should be the first step.
As technology advances, dentists can now also do repositioning of jaws and expansion of jaws to make space for your tongue to rest, hence improving your airway.
However, not all cases can be treated as such, and the treatment of sleep apnea should be a joint effort between different specialties
As a conclusion, sleep apnea is best treated when young. If you find your young one snoring and sleeping with a mouth opened, he/she may be having some form of difficulty in breathing.
Remember, snoring is not normal for kids!
Have a good day and sleep well!
Dr Tan MH
For any further enquiries, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.