Your Guide to Sleep Apnea in Bethlehem, PA

If you have a snoring habit, or if you often notice during the day that you feel drowsy or inattentive, you could be suffering from sleep apnea. “Apnea” means “no breath” in Greek and if you have sleep apnea, you wake up many times during the night to gasp for air and then fall back asleep. Your airway (trachea) is being blocked by soft tissue falling back against it.

At the back of the throat, there are several soft-tissue structures that can collapse against the airway, such as the uvula, the back of the tongue, tonsils, and adenoids. During the day, throat muscles keep the airway open but when you sleep, especially if you sleep on your back, the muscles relax and air can be partially or fully blocked by collapsed tissue.

A person with sleep apnea may stop breathing several hundred times every night and each time can be for as long as a minute and even longer. This makes for a poor night’s sleep and chronic fatigue as well as other health problems. This is not a rare condition – many people suffer from undiagnosed sleep apnea. Even visits to your doctor may not lead to a diagnosis, as there are no blood tests to detect it and you are breathing normally during the day.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

If you have undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea, you may have chronic symptoms such as:

  • Headaches in the morning
  • A dry, scratchy throat when you wake in the morning
  • A short attention span
  • Poor memory
  • Poor work performance
  • Irritability, depression, or mood swings

A child with sleep apnea may mouth breathing during the day, wet the bed, perform poorly in school, and exhibit hyperactivity and/or aggressiveness.

Who is at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Most people who suffer from sleep apnea are overweight. They have extra fatty tissue around the throat and airway that can more easily compress and close the airway during sleep.

Other people who tend to develop sleep apnea more than the general population are:

  • Men, especially men in mid-life
  • People over the age of 65 or so
  • Post-menopausal women
  • Hispanics, African-Americans, and Pacific Islanders
  • People with small airways
  • Children with enlarged tonsils
  • Tobacco users

Dr. Stephen Sulzbach is a Board Certified Dental Sleep Medicine specialist that diagnoses and treats sleep apnea. It is a life-threatening condition that should be diagnosed as soon as possible. The frequent periods of apnea lower your blood oxygen level, causing the brain to receive too little oxygen. The lack of sleep triggers the release of stress hormones that can increase your risk of heart failure.

There have been many studies done on sleep apnea and its connections with other health problems and it has now been strongly linked to:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • Obesity

Sleep apnea treatment can be simple and effective, consisting of a customized appliance to be worn at night. It will hold your lower jaw slightly forward and keep your airway open. For more information, please see How to Treat Sleep Apnea and Questions About Sleep Apnea.

Questions About Sleep Apnea in Bethlehem, PA

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition involving obstruction of the airway that causes nighttime breathing lapses. People with sleep apnea experience periods of halted breathing that last 10 seconds or longer, and some sufferers are plagued with frequent breathing interruptions (up to 400 or more a night). Apnea can cause daytime sleepiness, fatigue, depression, headaches, and other problems that have serious negative impacts on your quality of life.

What happens if sleep apnea goes untreated?

When your normal breathing pattern is interrupted, the oxygen level in your blood decreases, which can contribute to serious health issues like heart attack and stroke. Sleep apnea sufferers often develop high blood pressure, which can lead to serious cardiopulmonary conditions. Sleep apnea has also been linked to heart problems like heartbeat irregularities and heart disease.

Are there different types of sleep apnea?

Yes. The two forms of apnea are obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). In the obstructive form, throat tissue is responsible for obstructing the airway. In central sleep apnea, a much less common form, the brain fails to send messages to the breathing muscles, resulting in failure to inhale. Additionally, some patients are diagnosed with a type of sleep apnea that is a combination of both called mixed sleep apnea.

If I have been told I snore, does that mean I have sleep apnea?

Although snoring is not always representative of a sleep apnea case, it is a major symptom of airway obstruction. The narrowed airway that results in the snoring sound can indicate apnea may be disrupting your sleep, so it is best to see a neuromuscular dentist for a thorough evaluation. Our neuromuscular dentist, Dr. Stephen Sulzbach, is LVI-trained to recognize the bite misalignment and TMJ problems that can contribute to sleep apnea and is experienced in neuromuscular TMJ treatment.

How can sleep apnea cause motor vehicle accidents?

Sleep apnea is a major cause of daytime fatigue and is responsible for many motor vehicle crashes. When the body is not permitted to complete its restorative functions, it can literally shut down during the day. Apnea sufferers can become disoriented during the most inopportune times, like while driving. This is yet another reason why sleep apnea is a serious health risk and should be treated as soon as possible.

To talk to our Lansdale neuromuscular dentist during a personal sleep apnea consultation, please contact Towamencin Dentistry today. Our team looks forward to helping you get restful sleep with state-of-the-art sleep apnea treatment.

If you or your sleeping partner have a snoring habit or suffer from any of the symptoms listed above, please contact our Lansdale, Pennsylvania office for a free consultation with Dr. Sulzbach, who also welcomes patients from Souderton and Harleysville, Pennsylvania.

(215) 362-8166
Stephen Sulzbach, DMD
1111 Forty Foot Road
PO Box 220
Kulpsville, PA 19443

Want to learn more about Bethlehem Sleep Apnea?

Request an appointment or call (610) 861-0777 to learn more.

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