Bellingham Dentist

Don’t Let Sleep Apnea Affect Your Health

Considering Diagnosis and Treatment for Sleep Apnea

How serious is sleep apnea? If left untreated, sleep apnea is potentially very dangerous. The condition brings with it an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and dementia. It can be fatal in some cases.

There’s a 2015 study examining the association of obstructive sleep apnea with clinical outcomes including all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease(CHD), strokes and chronic kidney disease. It found that people with untreated sleep apnea are 86% more likely to die at a younger age than people who don’t have sleep apnea. It definitely increases the risk of dying younger than you would otherwise.

Side Effects of Sleep Apnea

There are many side effects and complications of untreated sleep apnea. Studies show a strong link between obstructive sleep apnea and depression, though the relationship is not fully understood. Another study found that sleep apnea might be associated with erectile dysfunction in men. It has also been associated with liver damage and metabolic syndrome and increases the risks associated with surgery and undergoing anesthesia.

How is the condition diagnosed? See your primary care doctor if you experience these: loud snoring, headache on waking up, dry mouth, insomnia, daytime sleepiness, irritability, gasping for air at night. It might be sleep apnea. If your doctor suspects it, you might be referred to a sleep specialist for a full evaluation.

Evaluation for sleep apnea will require an overnight stay at a sleep center for monitoring. The primary test is a nocturnal polysomnography that monitors everything from your heart and brain activity to your breathing patterns and blood oxygen levels. There are home sleep test options but are not as reliable.

Treatment Option for Sleep Apnea

What treatment options are available? Lifestyle changes will be the first step, and these include weight loss and exercise, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and changing your sleeping position. A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine may be recommended which will keep your airways open while you sleep. This method treats moderate to severe sleep apnea.

If these don’t work, surgical solutions are available. These are tissue removal and tissue shrinkage, jaw repositioning, nerve stimulation, and tracheostomy. Consider your best option. Treating this condition is still worth all the trouble.


Seeking Treatment in Bellingham

For all its worth, look into your sleep apnea condition and consider the possible consequences. For life and health and for the treatment of sleep apnea, pay us a visit here at Tetrick Family Dentistry in Bellingham, WA.