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What is Sleep Apnea? – Albuquerque, NM

Do You Have a Sleep Disorder?

Woman covering ears next to snoring man with sleep apnea in Albuquerque New Mexico

Is it a struggle for you to get out of bed every morning no matter how early you went to sleep? Do you constantly feel like falling asleep throughout the day? Chronic exhaustion could mean that you aren’t getting as much quality rest as you think you are due to a condition known as sleep apnea. Around 22 million Americans struggle with this disorder every night, but is it the source of your own sleep-related problems? Keep reading to learn the answer to the question, "what is sleep apnea," from your Albuquerque, NM dentist as well as what can be done about it.

Why Choose Center for Dental Sleep Medicine and TMJ of New Mexico for Sleep Apnea?

  • Treatment That Addresses the Source of the Problem
  • Nightlase as a Quick, Painless Solution for Sleep Apnea
  • Two Highly Trained Sleep Apnea Experts

What is Sleep Apnea?

Illustration of airway during obstructive sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder where your breathing repeatedly stops whenever you’re asleep. Whenever this occurs, your brain will partially wake you up so that breathing can resume. This can happen as many as 100 times every hour, but each awakening is so brief that you may not even realize that they happened. This means that your sleep cycle is being repeatedly interrupted without you even knowing it.

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which involves the airway becoming blocked by the soft tissues in your mouth and throat. There is also central sleep apnea that occurs when the brain stops telling the body to breathe while you’re asleep. In very rare cases, both types of sleep apnea can occur at the same time.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Man lying on back snoring with sleep apnea

People with sleep apnea typically experience any number of the following symptoms:

  • Loud, excessive snoring
  • Feeling exhausted even after (seemingly) getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep
  • Noticing a headache or sore throat in the morning
  • Mood swings and depression
  • Having trouble focusing on things during the day

Why is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Woman with sleep apnea in Albuquerque lying in bed

When you’re deprived of quality sleep, you’re nearly twice as likely to get into an accident while driving compared to people who are under the influence of alcohol, and your job performance is likely to suffer. Of course, sleep apnea can also have a notable impact on your overall health. When you stop breathing, your heart has to work harder to move limited supplies of oxygen around, and that causes blood pressure to rise. Constantly elevated blood pressure can lead to hypertension and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

How Can Sleep Apnea Be Diagnosed?

While you or your bed partner might notice the signs of sleep apnea, a medical test called a sleep study must be performed before a diagnosis can be made. A special device will monitor you while you sleep, measuring your blood oxygen levels, brain waves, breathing patterns, and so on. The readout will allow a sleep doctor to determine whether or not you have sleep apnea.

How Can Sleep Apnea Be Treated?

Our dental office offers different forms of sleep apnea treatment based on the circumstances. In certain cases, we can use our Nightlase laser to tighten the tissues around the airway in order to keep it open. We also offer oral appliances, which can be thought of as an alternative to traditional CPAP therapy. Sometimes oral appliance therapy and CPAP therapy can be combined into a single treatment. Call us today to start exploring your options.

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