Constantly Tired? You May Have Sleep Apnea - Thomas Orthodontics

Constantly Tired? You May Have Sleep Apnea

Man tired and asleep at work.

We all get tired sometimes, but feeling tired day after day is not normal. And if the issue persists, you should investigate further since chronic fatigue can be a sign of several medical conditions.

One common cause of frequent tiredness is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is more than just snoring; it involves obstructed or interrupted breathing while sleeping and can be a serious cause for concern. Both the short-term and long-term consequences can negatively impact your day-to-day life and wellbeing, as well as have dangerous effects on your health.

Why Worry About Sleep Apnea?

Short-term Side Effects

The short-term side effects of sleep apnea may seem less severe than the long-term effects listed below. But these issues are still detrimental to daily life, and may be useful to note as symptoms when you are seeking a diagnosis:

  • Daytime tiredness
  • Nodding off at inappropriate moments (during driving or work)
  • Snoring and choking noises during the night (which can wake you or disturb others)
  • Headaches
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Negative impacts on your social and professional life

Long-Term Dangers

The long-term side effects of sleep apnea appear slowly over time, and it may be hard to link them to the sleep disorder if you aren’t aware of it.

  • High blood pressure and cardiovascular problems – Altered breathing can cause a drop in blood oxygen levels, meaning the heart has to work harder. This puts a strain on the cardiovascular system and can raise blood pressure and even potentially increase your risk of heart failure and stroke.
  • Complications with medications or surgical procedures – Because sleep apnea affects breathing during sleep, surgery and anesthesia can be dangerous for patients with this condition.
  • Hearing loss – Emerging research suggests a link between sleep apnea and hearing loss. The exact reason is uncertain; it may be connected to the aural vibration caused by snoring or inflammation in the ears, which results from apneic breathing.
  • Depression – The combination of health and lifestyle impacts with ongoing fatigue can increase the chances that an individual may experience moderate to severe depression.

Symptoms

Sleep apnea can go undiagnosed because it often goes unnoticed. Because the most telling symptoms happen when you are asleep, you are often unaware and only experience the secondary symptoms that result during wakeful hours.

Your partner or roommate may be able to offer some clues if they hear you snore or gasp during the night. Wearable sleep trackers (often a feature in fitness trackers) may offer some insight as well.  In addition, reflecting on how you feel upon waking each morning will also point to the quality of sleep you experienced the night before. Common signs of sleep apnea, in addition to the short-term effects mentioned above, include:

  • Sore throat upon waking
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Irritability
  • Loud snoring
  • Frequent waking
  • Night sweats
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches, especially upon waking
  • Bad or sour taste in the mouth each morning
  • Nighttime gasping, choking, or interrupted breathing

Diagnosis

Sleep apnea is diagnosed by undergoing a sleep study. During a sleep study, or polysomnography, you spend the night in a sleep center, in a setting similar to that of a hotel room. Sensors will be attached to monitor your breathing and heart rate throughout the night. This study will confirm that you have (or do not have) sleep apnea. If your sleeping problem is related to another issue, you may be referred to another specialist.

Naperville Sleep Apnea Treatment

The good news is that sleep apnea is treatable. Patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea have found relief with the aid of oral appliances. Dr. Thomas is able to custom-fit one of these appliances for your teeth and mouth. It will keep your airway open during sleep, allowing your body to receive the continuous flow of oxygen that it needs. Appliances work in different ways, depending on the patient’s needs.

Patients with more severe sleep apnea may require CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines to establish regular airflow during the night. Our orthodontists can help determine which option is the right form of treatment for your needs.

If you think that sleep apnea is the culprit, visit Thomas Orthodontics to learn more. We can review your symptoms and determine if a sleep study is recommended.