Whether it’s a wispy, whistle-y one, or a bellowing, snorting one; Be it a rare occasion, a nightly ritual, or just stemming from your congested cold symptoms – snoring happens to everyone. If you don’t have someone sharing the room with you, you may be blissfully unaware of your snoring habits. Conversely, your partner may be losing sleep over your noisy airways.
However annoyance from your spouse with a jab in the ribs during the middle of the night may be the least of your worries. Loud, habitual snoring may be a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – a potentially dangerous condition that is characterized by obstruction of the airways. “Apnea” literally means “without breath”. The most dangerous aspect may be that you are unaware that your breathing is stopping during your sleep. While some sufferers of OSA become consciously awake every time their breathing stops for a period, others may not consciously wake up and are thus unaware. At the very least, someone with OSA may merely feel fatigue.
We have soft tissues that line our airway. As you are aware, muscle tone in your body relaxes during sleep. So too do these tissues and muscles that help us swallow and hold open our airway to breathe. Therefore the aforementioned obstruction in OSA is caused by the relaxation of our own tissues.
While this may sound like self-sabotage, it is of course unintentional – Just as snoring is not intentional.
Some factors that lead to snoring or sleep apneas are out of our control, such as being born a man naturally entails a more narrow air passageway; age naturally narrows our throat and decreases the muscle tone; having sinus issues; Or hereditary dispositions such as a cleft palate (a birth deformity resulting in a gap in the roof of your mouth), or enlarged adenoids (the unusual growth of tonsils).
Snoring and OSA may also be caused by qualities of your lifestyle you were unaware of. These factors may make you more at fault, but also allow you the ability to take control of your snoring. They include your alcohol consumption (especially before bed), being overweight or out of shape, smoking, medication, or sleeping positions.
OSA is first and foremost a reduction in the amount of oxygen in your blood due to the lack of breathing. This in itself may lead to high blood pressure and greater risk of heart attack, increase your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, further weight gain, acid reflux, and not to mention disruptive sleep patterns which can lead to all sorts of irritation during waking life.
So if your roaring snore can be heard across town, or you suspect the silence of sleep apnea, stop in to your Ottawa dentist, Dr. Jaleel. Solutions may include weight loss, quitting smoking or drinking, changing your medication and sleeping positions, to more intensive solutions depending on your needs, including oral appliances or surgery. Oral appliances such as a mandibular advancement device, helps keep the lower jaw in a forward position that increases the airflow in the airway. A CPAP accomplishes the same objective by continuously flowing pressurized air through the airways.
So take a deep breath, and exhale (and don’t forget to repeat!). Your Ottawa dentist, Dr. Jaleel can help.More