Silent Struggles: Navigating Sleep Apnea

Does your wife or husband complain you have been snoring all night? Do you still wake up tired despite a full night’s sleep? Then you could be suffering from a severe sleeping disorder known as sleep apnea. This can negatively impact your quality of sleep, affecting your routine life. 

At San Diego family and cosmetic dentistry, specialists strive to identify the cause of sleep apnea to provide effective non-surgical and surgical treatment options, thereby enhancing your quality of life. 

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that ceases the normal breathing while you are asleep. The word “apnea” means breathless, and it can happen either due to blocked airways (obstructive apnea) if your brain does not control your breathing correctly (central apnea), or due to a combination of both (complex apnea).  

The resulting lack of oxygen activates a survival reflex in your body that wakes you up frequently, just enough to resume breathing. Though the reflex can keep you alive, it can interrupt your normal sleep cycle. This can negatively impact your sleep and have other ill effects like increased strain on your heart, leading to life-threatening consequences. 

What causes sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea has specific causes based on the types. These include the following:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
    • Is caused by blockage of the airways when the muscles of the head and neck relax while you are asleep.
    • The surrounding tissues press against your windpipe, obstructing the normal airflow through it.
  • Central sleep apnea
    • Heart failure
    • Hypoxia (low blood oxygen levels)
    • Nervous system damage

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea presents with a wide range of symptoms, such as:

  • Fatigue on waking up
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Snoring 
  • Waking up frequently at night
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Memory loss
  • Unusual breathing pattern
  • Insomnia
  • Night sweats and heartburn
  • Sexual dysfunction 
  • Headaches, especially when waking up

How can sleep apnea be treated?

There are many approaches to treating sleep apnea,  based on the specific type and how severe it is. Possible treatments include:

Non-surgical approach

  • Conservative treatment 
    • Weight loss
    • Changing sleep positions
    • Nasal sprays
    • Treating the underlying conditions such as heart failure
  • Medications 
    • Decreasing or stopping opioid pain medications 
  • Positive airway pressure (PAP) and adaptive ventilation
    • Uses a specialized device to increase the air pressure inside your airway.
  • Oral appliances
    • Hold your tongue and jaw in a position to keep pressure off your windpipe.
  • Nerve stimulators 

Surgical approach

  • Somnoplasty
  • Nasal surgery
  • tonsillectomy/ adenoidectomy
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)
  • Jaw surgery 


Sleep apnea is a widespread condition that disrupts your breathing while you are asleep. Over time, it can lead to serious or even deadly complications, so early diagnosis and treatment are vital.

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