Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep.
Each episode, called an apnea or hypopnea, lasts long enough so one or more breaths are missed, and such episodes occur repeatedly throughout sleep. In Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), breathing is interrupted by a physical block to airflow despite respiratory effort. Rarely are OSA sufferers even aware of their condition and most simply become conditioned to the daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with significant levels of sleep disturbance.
Spouses are often the person aware of a loved one’s snoring. We have also observed spouses can accommodate to the snoring bed partner and are not aware of the underlying problem.
For those who are aware of their sleep apnea condition, the gold standard for treating OSA has long been an appliance called the CPAP machine. Although very effective, many people find the CPAP to be very uncomfortable and cumbersome. In fact, it is well known after one year 67% of CPAP users are no longer use the machine. In many cases, sleep apnea sufferers may benefit from and prefer a more comfortable jaw-aligning oral appliance. The purpose of this device is to reposition the tongue forward and out of the throat to allow for a clear airway. Delivering more oxygen to the body allows you to wake up feeling more rested and energetic.
Sleep Apnea is a condition that occurs when someone stops breathing for more than 10 seconds while sleeping. Lots of people don’t even know they suffer from this condition. The symptoms can include:
- Daytime Sleepiness
- Nighttime Restlessness
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Attack
- Weight Gain
- And many more…
Just think about it, 1/3 of your life is spent sleeping. If you are not getting the restful sleep your body needs, then your body doesn’t have the health that it should. Each pause in your breathing if you have sleep apnea can last 10-20 seconds, and these pauses can occur up to 20 to 30 even up to 90 times per hour! The dangers of snoring and sleep apnea are sometimes overlooked and left untreated. Sleep apnea is basically repetitive episodes of suffocation. According to recent studies people with mild sleep apnea have a 300-500% increase in motor vehicle accidents involving serious injuries.
People who suffer from snoring and sleep apnea are deprived of necessary oxygen while they sleep. While it may not seem like a serious problem because the sleep apnic eventually wakes up to take the necessary breath of air, the lack of oxygen to the body can have lasting effects. Sometimes the body can experience as much as a 50% reduction in the amount of oxygen being taken in. This lack of oxygen can lead to many health problems including an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Disruption in sleep cycle creates hormonal and metabolic consequences.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Treatment for Sleep Apnea varies with each patient’s diagnosis, and treatment can be as simple as behavior and lifestyle changes. Dr. Nelson may recommend a change in diet or weight loss. CPAP is considered the gold standard of treatment but unfortunately CPAP is used by less than half of patients fitted for it.
Many patients feel the CPAP is too uncomfortable to sleep with. For these patients, oral appliances are the best form of treatment. Oral appliances are devices that you wear over your upper and lower teeth. The appliance holds your lower jaw slightly forward, which will open your airway and allow more air to flow into your lungs.
Surgery to prevent upper airway obstruction is available but is best used only after evaluating the effect of an oral appliance. The exception is opening of nasal airway and tonsil and adenoid removal in children.
Please contact Dr. Nelson today to learn more about Obstructive Sleep Apnea. See if we can help you get a good night’s sleep, and give you a healthier and longer life!