What is Sleep Apnea?
Waking up from a night’s sleep without getting any sleep—it’s a problem. And that problem could be obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). What is OSA? OSA is a sleep disorder, in which case the upper airway is obstructed by excess tissue, airway muscles collapsing and relaxing during sleep, nasal passages and position of the jaw. The word “apnea” is Greek for “without breath.” OSA is one of three sleep apnea disorders, the others being mixed and central sleep apnea.
An estimated 18 to 20 million adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with OSA, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Most of these people go undiagnosed for a long time because they are unaware of the symptoms. In most cases, a loved one will have noticed the symptoms before the patient. Common symptoms of OSA include loud snoring, waking up abruptly and gasping for air. When apnea occurs, it sends impulses to the brain to wake a person up, allowing them to restart normal breathing patterns. If there are 30 apneas during an average night of sleep (7-8 hours), a patient can be diagnosed with sleep apnea disorder.
This is a disorder that needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. If a patient continues without treatment, he/she raises the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, irregular heartbeat, heart attack and stroke. Also, a person suffering from sleep apnea will have trouble functioning during the day, which could result in accidents and lack of productivity. A sleep study is the only proper way to diagnose OSA.
Oral Appliance Therapy
To treat OSA, there are many different appliances that can help lessen an obstruction to the airways. Oral appliances are a primary treatment for mild to moderate OSA. What does an oral appliance do? It repositions the tongue and lower jaw forward, allowing the airways to remain open. Dentists typically use oral appliances as their main treatment option. And most dentists offer custom-made oral appliances.
Other Treatment for Sleep Apnea
The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) remains the standard therapy for OSA. A CPAP uses air pressure to keep the airway open. If a patient can’t tolerate a CPAP, an oral appliance is the recommended treatment. Obstructive sleep apnea isn’t something to snore at.
A Sleep Quiz
Answering these simple questions may be the first step to a restful night sleep for you and your family. The problems listed here may appear suddenly or emerge over many years. It is possible that you are not even aware of them. We recommend that you discuss these questions with your family members and co-workers, as they may be the first to recognize these signs.
- I have been told that I snore
- I have been told that I snore loudly, every night, in all positions.
- I have been told that I stop breathing while I sleep.
- I have jolted awake gasping for breath during the night.
- After a full night’s sleep, I still wake up feeling tired.
- I fall asleep at inappropriate times, for example at work or behind the wheel of a car.
- I have trouble concentrating.
- I have become unusually forgetful.
- People say, or I feel, I have become uncharacteristically irritable, anxious or depressed.
- I often wake up with a headache.
- I have high blood pressure.
- I am overweight.
- I seem to have lost my sex drive.
IF YOU CAN ANSWER YES TO ANY OF THESE STATEMENTS YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR DENTIST OR PHYSICIAN ABOUT SNORING AND SLEEP APNEA.
To find out how you and your family can treat snoring and sleep apnea,
contact Montgomery Dental Care in Montgomery, OH at (513) 793-5703 for more information.