Understanding Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Do you often wake up tired and exhausted, despite a full night’s sleep? If so, you may be among the millions worldwide suffering from sleep apnea. This common yet potentially serious sleep disorder can greatly impact your daily life and overall well-being. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for sleep apnea can help you regain control of your restful nights. This blog post will dive deep into this to provide valuable insights and solutions to conquer this condition. 

What is sleep apnea?

It is a disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. These interruptions can last a few seconds to minutes and occur multiple times throughout the night.

There are three main types of sleep apnea: 

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA)
  • Complex/mixed sleep apnea.

OSA is the most common type, caused by the relaxation of the throat muscles that block the airway. CSA occurs when the brain fails to send proper signals to control breathing during sleep. Complex/mixed sleep apnea is a combination of both OSA and CSA.

The consequences of untreated sleep apnea can be significant. It leads to chronic fatigue and daytime drowsiness. It increases the risk of developing serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Causes of sleep apnea

Causes of sleep apnea can vary and are often multifactorial. One of the main causes is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open during sleep. This can be due to obesity, excess soft tissue in the throat, or a narrow airway.

Another cause of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, which happens when there is a problem with the brain’s signals that control breathing during sleep. This can be caused by certain medical conditions such as heart failure or stroke.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

Symptoms of sleep apnea can vary from person to person, but some common signs may indicate the presence of this condition. One of the most noticeable symptoms is loud and persistent snoring, often accompanied by pauses in breathing. These pauses can last for a few seconds or even longer, followed by gasping or choking sounds as the body tries to regain normal airflow.

Another symptom is excessive daytime sleepiness. People with sleep apnea often wake up tired, despite having slept for an adequate number of hours. This fatigue can affect their ability to concentrate and perform daily activities effectively. Additionally, they may experience morning headaches, dry mouth, or sore throat upon waking.

Sleep apnea can also disrupt sleep quality, leading to frequent awakenings at night. As a result, individuals may feel restless during the day and struggle with irritability or mood swings.

It’s important to note that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Still, if you or your partner consistently experiences these symptoms, it’s worth discussing with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and diagnosis.

Treatment of sleep apnea

If you suspect that you or someone you know may be suffering from sleep apnea, it’s important to seek professional help for diagnosis and treatment. Dental professionals at Hillsboro Dental Excellence specialize in providing effective solutions for treating sleep apnea.

Dentists specializing in sleep medicine possess expert knowledge of oral appliances tailored to this disorder. These devices, such as mandibular advancement splints or tongue-retaining mouthpieces, effectively reposition the jaw or stabilize the tongue to prevent airway obstruction during sleep. 

Dentists’ meticulous fitting and adjustments ensure optimal comfort and functionality of these appliances while concurrently addressing underlying dental concerns that may exacerbate sleep apnea symptoms. With their extensive understanding of craniofacial anatomy, dentists can identify potential obstructions within the upper airways caused by oral structures like misaligned teeth or an excessively large uvula. 


Here we have guided you about sleep apnea. Remember, proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plans are essential in managing sleep apnea successfully. Taking proactive steps towards addressing this condition can improve your sleep quality, reduce the risk of related health issues, and ultimately enhance your overall well-being.

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