sleeping-man Sleep Apnea is a commonly overlooked sleep disorder that can potentially be life threatening. Although alarming, sleep apnea is also a condition that is highly treatable. Here are five facts you might not have known about sleep apnea that better equip you to understand and treat the signs.

1 There are many symptoms to consider when recognizing whether or not sleep apnea affects you. These include excessive sleepiness during daytime hours, memory loss, morning headaches, irritability, decreased sex drive, insomnia, general fatigue, loud snoring, abruptly waking up with shortness of breath, and/or awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat.

2. There is one main cause of sleep apnea. The disorder consists of a blockage of the airway when the muscles in the tongue and throat relax. When this occurs, it becomes much harder to breathe and airways contract. As a result, bloodstreams receive severely low oxygen levels. When the brain senses the lack of blood flow, it abruptly wakes up the person sleeping so they are able to reopen the airways. Most often, this happens with a loud gasp, coughing or choking and can frequent on a certain sleeping pattern or all night long until properly treated.

3. There are many different treatments to sleep apnea. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight or getting regular exercise can alleviate uncomfortable by toning throat muscles. If lifestyle changes don’t make enough of a positive influence on the disorder, doctors suggest a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine while sleeping.  The CPAP keeps airways open by forcing air into throats. But because many find this treatment uncomfortable Oral Appliance Therapy is also offered. Sleep apnea patients are fitted for a mouth guard of sorts that supports the jaw to maintain an open airway during sleep.

4. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, chronic acid reflux, and/or erectile dysfunction.

If you experience any of the signs or symptoms presented about sleep apnea above, it is recommended to see a doctor -or better yet, a dentist! Teeth are actually linked quite closely with sleeping disorders. Dentists are best equipped to handle sleep disorders and suggest proper treatments.