Sleep Apnea Questions
Northern Virginia, including Arlington, Tysons Corner, Alexandria, Fairfax, and McLean, Virginia Apnea
What causes obstructive sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when the throat airways become blocked or obstructed. This can happen for a variety of reasons:
- The tongue and throat muscles become over-relaxed during sleep
- The tonsils and tongue are enlarged
- The size of the airway is too small
- There is excess fat tissue in the windpipe causing a more narrow opening, often a side effect of being overweight
Why is it important to treat sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is more than just annoying; it can be dangerous. When air is not allowed to flow into and out of your lungs because of blockage, your blood oxygen level will drop. As this level drops, the brain is activated to interrupt your sleeping pattern and tighten the muscles, which opens the airways.
This can occur frequently throughout the night. In fact, some patients have sleep apnea gasps up to 30 times an hour. Not surprisingly, this sleep interruption releases stress hormones and can lead to a whole host of physical problems, including extreme fatigue, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure and more.
How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
Our dentists will diagnose sleep apnea by first evaluating your symptoms during a thorough evaluation. Personal and family medical history will also be taken into consideration when determining if an overnight sleep study is needed. During a sleep study, you will sleep with painless sensors attached to several areas of your face and limbs to record:
- Blood oxygen levels
- Breathing patterns
- Heart rate
- Brain activity
- Muscle activity
- Airflow into and out of the lungs
Once sleep apnea has been diagnosed, the patient can begin exploring different sleep apnea treatment options.
If you have additional questions about sleep apnea, please contact the Virginia sleep apnea dentists at Galleria Dental Aesthetics to schedule an appointment to discuss symptoms and treatment options. We serve Northern Virginia including Alexandria, Arlington, Reston, Tysons Corner and Fairfax.