It’s estimated that 50% of people snore at some point during their life.
Sleep apnea is a more serious, but also common sleep disorder. Snoring and sleep apnea are related. Many people who snore also have sleep apnea. However, the conditions are not always present together.
Snoring alone doesn’t cause breathing to stop. People who suffer from sleep apnea actually stop breathing. This can happen many times during the night. When the oxygen flow to the brain is interrupted—not surprisingly—serious problems can occur. Even death.
Sleep apnea sufferers are at risk for heart problems including high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. They are also at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
One of the most common problems is daytime fatigue. This can be debilitating. Untreated sleep apnea lowers the quality of life.
The problems are not limited to the person with the disorder. Their bed partner is also deprived of restorative sleep and, as such, is at risk of health complications.
How do you know if you have sleep apnea?
If you suffer from daytime sleepiness, or your partner says you stop breathing temporarily during sleep, see your doctor ASAP. If you want to start out with a specialist, ask your primary doctor for a recommendation. In the U.S., the American Board of Sleep Medicine certifies physicians who treat sleep disorders.
Your doctor will diagnose whether you have sleep apnea and which of the three types you have. This may require a visit to a sleep disorder clinic.
If your physician diagnoses your condition as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, don’t assume that there is only one treatment.
Sleep apnea can be treated with an oral appliance, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), or surgery.
If your medical doctor believes you are a candidate for a dental appliance, consult a dentist who specializes in treatment for sleep disorders.