Untreated sleep apnea can be dangerous any time – but especially on vacation. That’s because one of the major sleep apnea symptoms is daytime sleepiness. You know, the kind that can make it easy to nod off or even fall asleep while driving on a long road trip.
If you have sleep apnea, your breathing is interrupted during sleep – sometimes as many as hundreds of times a night. The oxygen level in your blood drops, and your body reacts by partially or completely awakening. Because of this, your body doesn’t get the deep sleep it needs to function properly.
People with untreated sleep apnea often suffer from excessive sleepiness throughout the day. important while driving. Some studies of long-distance truck drivers have linked untreated sleep The condition makes it hard to stay focus and to stay alert, two things that are obviously apnea to a higher percentage of traffic accidents.
We want you and your family to be safe on vacation! If you suspect you could have sleep apnea, visit our Montgomery, AL dentist office. We’ll perform a simple exam called the Mallampati test, which is a good indicator of obstructive sleep apnea. It helps determine whether your tongue, soft palate, or other areas of your mouth are likely to block your airway.
If the test indicates apnea is likely and you are experiencing symptoms, we can fit you for a custom-made oral appliance that will keep your airway open so you can breathe more easily while you sleep. To schedule an appointment to see one of our dentists, call 334-600-1423.
Untreated Sleep Apnea Is Scary
As if depriving you of rest and making you prone to sleepiness while driving isn’t bad enough, research has shown that sleep apnea sufferers are more likely to experience other health problems, including irregular heartbeats and high blood pressure.
Some other conditions linked to sleep apnea:
- Alzheimer’s disease
Sleep Apnea More Common if You’re Overweight
One of the biggest risk factors for sleep apnea is obesity. Sleep apnea is more prevalent in men than in women. It’s also more common in adults over 40.
Other risk factors include:
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- A large neck (17-plus inches for men, more than 16 inches for women)
- A small upper airway
- A deviated septum
Don’t Ignore Sleep Apnea Symptoms
If you are experiencing any sleep apnea symptoms, visit our office ASAP, especially if a long stretch on the road is in your future. Many people come to see us after their bed partner complains about their loud, chronic snoring. It’s a common symptom. A more harmonious relationship with your partner is one of many good reasons to get sleep apnea treatment.
Here are some other symptoms:
- Waking with a dry or sore throat
- Frequent bouts of insomnia
- Waking with a headache
Oral Appliance vs. CPAP Machine
There are two commonly recommended treatments for sleep apnea: an oral appliance or a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. The appliance works by gently shifting your jaw into a position that keeps your airway open while you sleep. A CPAP works by delivering a constant flow of pressurized air, usually through a mask, to prevent blockage of your airway.
Many patients prefer an appliance to a CPAP because it’s less obtrusive. It doesn’t cover any part of their face, and there is no plastic tubing to get tangled. Not everyone finds it comfortable to breathe forced air.
Even if you use a CPAP, an oral appliance is easier to take along for travel. It’ll fit into a purse or a pocket. You won’t need to worry about an electrical outlet or batteries with an appliance. Nor will an oral appliance get you pulled aside in an airport security line.
Whether you’re flying or driving, you don’t want to travel with untreated sleep apnea. It’s possible you could be putting yourself or your family in danger. To talk to one of our Montgomery, AL dentists about apnea, call Carmichael Dental Care at 334-600-1423.