Sleep apnea is a condition that affects millions of Americans across the nation. Often, those with sleep apnea are unaware they suffer from it, but when left untreated, it can lead to a variety of serious conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and liver problems. Thankfully, there are treatment options available to help you get a better night's sleep and wake up feeling energized and ready for the day!

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when the tongue and soft palate collapse across the back of the throat. This blocks airflow and cuts off oxygen to the brain. Because of this, the brain will repeatedly wake the person to breathe – sometimes up to 300 times per night. This prevents a person from going into a deeper REM sleep, which leaves them drowsy and exhausted even after a full night's sleep.

Depending on the severity, sleep apnea can lead to more severe problems. These issues include:

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea causes a variety of symptoms that can affect a person's every-day life. Extreme daytime drowsiness, insomnia, snoring, nightmares, and sleep deprivation are just a few noticeable symptoms. Sleep apnea is also often linked to a sore throat, morning headaches, weight gain, and mood swings.

There are several risk factors that make certain people more prone to developing this condition. Those with excessive weight, dependency on alcohol or smoking, history of using sedatives to get to sleep, or a family history of this condition may make them more likely to develop sleep apnea.

How is sleep apnea treated?

There is no known cure for sleep apnea. However, there are treatment options available! The most common treatment is the use of a device or machine. For severe cases, a physician may prescribe the use of a CPAP machine, which should be worn nightly.

For those with mild to moderate cases, or for those who cannot tolerate a CPAP machine, Dr. Spees may recommend the use of a Panthera D-SAD device. This is a small dental appliance (similar to a mouth guard) that can be used to treat snoring and sleep apnea effectively.

If you would like to learn more about treatment options for sleep apnea, call one of our two convenient locations. Our Zionsville location can be reached at 317-873-2206, and our Lebanon location can be reached at 765-482-6672. Our team would be happy to schedule a consultation with Dr. Spees! For severe cases, we may refer a patient to a sleep physician.

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