How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?

Feb 07, 2024
 How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
You may know you have sleep apnea if you snore. But additional symptoms can offer a good clue. Learn more here. 

If your significant other has told you that you snore, you’re probably not getting a very good night’s rest (and neither are they)! This is more than just a nuisance. There's a high likelihood that you could have a condition called sleep apnea.

You may have other symptoms of sleep apnea which are signs that you’re not sleeping well. Maybe you wake up with headaches or lose focus in the afternoon. The providers at Whole Body Dental explain more about how you can find out if you have sleep apnea and what you can do about it.  

What is sleep apnea?

If you have sleep apnea, you’re far from alone. Sleep apnea refers to when you stop breathing, often dozens of times an hour. Your brain gets the signal that you’ve stopped breathing, which briefly wakes you up. This typically happens with a gasp for breath, which causes the infamous snoring.

Between 10-30% of adults are believed to have sleep apnea, though it is widely assumed that the numbers are low because so many cases go undiagnosed.

The symptoms of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea presents several symptoms, most of which are a result of stopping breathing and then waking up briefly throughout the night. Some of the most common symptoms include the following:

  • You snore loudly (or your partner reports that you do)
  • You wake up with a headache
  • You wake up with a dry mouth or even a sore throat
  • You sometimes wake up abruptly gasping or coughing 
  • You sometimes wake up feeling shortness of breath
  • You have concentration or memory problems while you’re awake
  • You often have bouts of daytime fatigue (and may drink many cups of coffee to try to combat it)
  • You have insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
  • Your sex drive may suffer

If you have several of these symptoms, it’s time to get evaluated for sleep apnea. 

How we check for sleep apnea

It was once the case that only a sleep specialist could diagnose you with sleep apnea. However, now dentists can also do this. We’ll usually send you home with a test you can wear overnight to measure whether or not you stop breathing during sleep.

We check the alignment of the roof of your mouth. We also check your tonsils and measure the distance between them. Often, we can tell just by looking at the inside of your mouth that you likely have sleep apnea.

How we treat sleep apnea

The gold standard for treating sleep apnea was a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. This machine blows air into your lungs at steady intervals you set. This prevents you from needing to gasp for air, which also prevents snoring.

You may also get a custom dental appliance or mouth guard. These can also prevent snoring by moving your jaw forward so that you don’t snore. 

The ultimate goal of treating sleep apnea is to help you get a good night’s sleep again. Contact the providers at Whole Body Dental in Bellevue, Washington, or request an appointment online.