If you’re snoring loudly at night and exhausted during the day, sleep apnea may be to blame. Sleep apnea, episodes when breathing stops during sleep, can wake you and your partner and cause you to fall asleep during the day. But sleep apnea is more than an annoyance – it can be fatal.
“You are literally suffocating in your sleep and have no awareness of it,” says cosmetic dentist Dr. Lisa Marie Samaha, owner of Port Warwick Dental Arts in Newport News, which treats sleep apnea. “Although most sleep apnea patients are overweight and older, this condition can afflict young people, thin people and children.”
These episodes can last for 10 seconds or more – with the average being 18 seconds and the longest on record 138 seconds. About 17 percent of the population are sleep apnea patients, but many are undiagnosed. Untreated sleep apnea has been linked to heart attacks and strokes. Patients with untreated sleep apnea will die an average of 20 years sooner than those without sleep apnea, with an average age at death of 52, according to Samaha.
“The body goes into little bouts of shock all night long, creating total exhaustion for the individuals’ entire body and mind,” Samaha says. Symptoms include loud snoring, and then waking up with a gasp; frequent silences during sleep; falling asleep during the day; and feeling exhausted even after what should have been a full night’s sleep. “Sleep apnea can cause or contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, heart disease, short-term memory problems, weight gain, gastric reflux, dry mouth, sore throat and low energy,” says Samaha.
Dr. Samaha and her highly trained staff at Port Warwick Dental Arts in Newport News have been helping sleep apnea patients breathe easier for 15 years. Patients wear a dental appliance that positions the lower jaw and tongue forward to keep the airway open all night. Samaha is one of only about 500 dentists in the United States specially trained to offer this treatment. If you think you are experiencing this sleep disorder, give Port Warwick Dental Arts a call and schedule a friendly consultation.