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Are you spending your days walking around in a fog, feeling crippled by fatigue? If so, sleep apnea could be to blame. Sleep apnea affects millions of people in the U.S., and many of them don’t even know they have it. Far from simply being a condition that makes you feel a little tired, sleep apnea is a serious problem that can have life-threatening consequences. Fortunately, if you’re suffering from sleep apnea in Seattle, your dentist can offer treatment that doesn’t involve wearing a clunky mask. Here is what you need to know about sleep apnea symptoms and your treatment options.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Sleep apnea occurs when pressure from the neck closes the airway in your throat as you sleep, making you wake up to gasp for air. The waking period may be so short that you don’t even realize it is happening, but for many people with sleep apnea, that cycle can repeat hundreds of times per evening. Because many people with sleep apnea aren’t aware that they are waking, daytime drowsiness is often the first symptom. Prolonged lack of sleep can increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and even car accidents. Some people with sleep apnea aren’t aware that they have it until a sleeping partner tells them that they are gasping for air during the night.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

The treatment most doctors prescribe for sleep apnea is a CPAP mask. These masks are worn either just over the nose or over the nose and mouth and use constant air pressure to keep the airways open. While effective, CPAPs are extremely uncomfortable for many people, both because of the airflow and because of the bulky mask and attached hose that hooks up to a machine that has to be kept at the bedside. Your dentist can offer an oral appliance as an alternative sleep apnea treatment. These appliances, such as the Moses Oral Appliance, gently reposition the jaw and tongue to prevent breathing obstructions. Many patients find oral appliances to be as effective as CPAP therapy but significantly more comfortable.

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