Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when the throat muscles relax, the jaw falls back and restricts the airway which causes a person to stop breathing multiple times throughout the night.
Snoring and feeling sleepy throughout the day may be obvious symptoms of OSA, but what about the less obvious signs?
Let’s look at some minor everyday ailments that could be a red flag that you may suffer from OSA:
- Grinding/Clenching your teeth:
When performing CPR, the first thing a person is instructed to do is pull the chin forward to OPEN THE AIRWAY. At night, when your airway is restricted and you stop breathing, your body’s natural response is to try and breathe again. Clenching and grinding could be your bodies subconscious attempt to keep the jaw forward at night and thus the airway open.
When your airway is restricted or cut off (and then reopens), it causes pressure that impacts your entire chest. This pressure can cause stomach acid to reflux up your esophagus, causing heartburn. If your heartburn is occurring at night and you didn’t eat prior to sleeping, this could be an indicator of OSA.
- Waking up to go to the bathroom several times at night (Nocturia)
According to Dr. Umlauf at Sleepapnea.org, when you have an apnea episode, it sets off a chain reaction. “Oxygen decreases, carbon dioxide increases, the blood becomes more acidic, the heart rate drops and blood vessels in the lung constrict,” says Umlauf. “The body is alerted that something is very wrong. The sleeper must wake enough to reopen the airway. By this time, the heart is racing and experiences a false signal of fluid overload. The heart excretes a hormone-like protein that tells the body to get rid of sodium and water, resulting in nocturia.” If you are waking up frequently with the urge to go to the bathroom, this could be an indicator of OSA.
If you think you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea or a Sleep Disorder, please contact your physician or dentist to discuss further or use our locator to find one in your area.
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