Nearly 40 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a chronic condition that causes you to stop breathing dozens or even hundreds of times a night.

Typically, OSA happens when the muscles in your throat and neck relax during sleep, and the tissue at the back of your throat drops down into your airway temporarily. It’s more common among older people, people who are overweight, and those with a large neck or tongue.

Not surprisingly, sleep apnea takes a toll on the quality of your sleep, but over time, it can also increase your risk of serious health problems, like high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, depression, and diabetes. Early treatment is essential, but since OSA happens while you’re sleeping, it’s not always easy to know if you have it.

At Constant and Contro Orthodontics in Cupertino, California, our team provides advanced therapies for sleep apnea, as well as education to help you spot the more subtle signs of OSA.

In this post, learn nine signs and symptoms that could mean it’s time to schedule a sleep apnea evaluation for yourself or a loved one.

1. Snoring or loud breathing

Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, but it can happen for other reasons, like allergies. People with sleep apnea tend to have chronic, loud snoring that may be accompanied by gasping or prolonged pauses in breathing during sleep.

2. Daytime sleepiness

Sleep apnea takes a major toll on your quality of sleep, and not surprisingly, can lead to daytime sleepiness. Some people with severe apnea find they drift off one or more times during the day due to a lack of quality sleep at night.

3. Irritability or moodiness

Poor sleep quality and a broken sleep pattern can make it harder to regulate your moods. Many people with OSA find they feel depressed, anxious, or irritable, or they may experience swings in their mood.

4. Morning sore throat

Snoring irritates the sensitive lining of your throat, leading to morning soreness. People with OSA also tend to spend time sleeping with their mouths open, leading to dryness and throat irritation, as well.

5. Morning headaches

Morning headaches are another common symptom of OSA. These headaches may be due to the poorer quality of sleep experienced by OSA sufferers or to breathing interruptions that lead to low oxygen levels in your brain.

6. Problems concentrating

Daytime sleepiness often leads to problems with memory and focus, resulting in poorer performance at work and school. Problems with memory may also take a toll on social interactions and relationships.

7. Decreased libido

Studies show that OSA has an effect on the sex drive in both women and men. Feeling drowsy and fatigued can certainly play a role, but frequent sleep interruptions may also interrupt the production and function of hormones associated with libido.

8. Sleeping partner

Even though sleep apnea can interrupt normal breathing hundreds of times a night, those interruptions can be so brief that you wind up sleeping through them and fail to catch one of the most common symptoms.

If you have a sleeping partner, though, there’s a good chance they’ve noticed changes in your breathing, gasping, or other symptoms of apnea that you’ve slept right through.

Relief for sleep apnea

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are often touted as a remedy for OSA, but these machines come with significant drawbacks for many people. They’re loud, cumbersome, and uncomfortable, and without regular deep cleaning, they can harbor germs that can make you ill.

Our team offers special nighttime appliances designed to comfortably fit the contours of your mouth. These appliances gently shift your jaw position, keeping your airway open and preventing breathing disruptions.

Other times, we recommend orthodontic treatment to correct bite mechanics or structural issues associated with OSA. Your treatment plan is tailored to your needs, so you can enjoy better sleep and better health.

To learn more about sleep apnea treatments, request an appointment online or over the phone with our team at Constant and Contro Orthodontics today.

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