Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a potentially serious breathing disorder that occurs during sleep, often making it difficult for individuals to gauge whether they are affected by the condition. As the most common form of sleep apnea, OSA is characterized by repeated pauses in breathing that sometimes lasts for 10 to 20 seconds at a time. This occurs due to the over-relaxation of throat muscles, which can reduce the size of the airway and prevent proper oxygen flow, causing breathing to stop and start at regular intervals throughout the night. When patients experience these cessations in their normal breathing pattern, the brain’s “fight or flight” response activates and they can wake up gasping or choking for air.

This sleep breathing disorder can lead to a myriad of health concerns, such as cardiovascular problems, daytime fatigue, migraines, mood swings, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. A consultation and thorough evaluation with our Encino dentist, Martin Gorman, DDS, can help confirm a potential OSA diagnosis, but our team has also compiled a checklist outlining common signs of OSA to give you insight into whether your symptoms may be indicative of obstructive sleep apnea:

  • I am a loud snorer.
  • I often wake up with a chronic cough, dry mouth, or sore throat.
  • I sometimes feel tongue-tied and have trouble sucking, swallowing, or speaking.
  • I have a forward head posture.
  • I rarely feel rested, even after a full night of sleep.
  • I have difficulty concentrating throughout the day and often feel tired or fatigued.
  • I wake up with morning headaches or migraines.
  • I often feel depressed or irritable and am experiencing changes in my mood.

The preceding symptoms are common physiological effects of sleep apnea, with throat inflammation, a head posture that leans forward, and the experience of being “tongue-tied” commonly associated with mouth breathing. Breathing through the mouth eliminates the possibility of filtering out pollutants and other “dirty air” particles, often causing the throat to swell and the airway to constrict. For this reason, mouth breathing and OSA have a high correlation rate.

While obstructive sleep apnea is often debilitating, treatment from an experienced sleep disorder specialist can help OSA patients minimize their daytime symptoms, restore their health, and achieve more restful sleep. For more information about diagnosing and treating obstructive sleep apnea, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Gorman, please contact our practice today.

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