Unless Your Bed Partner Complains, Most Of Us Are Not Concerned About Snoring.
Loud snoring alongside daytime sleepiness may be an indication of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is fairly common and can be potentially serious because normal breathing repeatedly stops during sleep, depriving the brain of oxygen. Although sleep apnea is treatable, it often goes unrecognized.
In untreated sleep apnea, breathing is continuously interrupted for brief periods during sleep. These breathing pauses typically last between 10 to 20 seconds and can occur up to hundreds of times a night. As a consequence, you spend more time in light sleep and less time in deep, restorative sleep.
This chronic sleep deprivation results in daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, slow reflexes, and an increased risk of accidents. Sleep apnea is associated with serious health problems over time, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and weight gain. With treatment, symptoms can significantly improve, resulting in more energy.
Signs And Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea
- Pauses occur while you snore, followed by gasping or choking
- Fighting sleepiness during the day, at work, or while driving
- You may find yourself rapidly falling asleep during the quiet moments of the day
- Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
- Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
- Morning headaches
- Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up
- Waking up frequently to urinate
Risk Factors For Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Over the age of 65
- Small lower jaw
- Nasal obstruction
A sleep physician diagnoses sleep apnea using a polysomnogram (a.k.a. a sleep study). This diagnosis is usually required before any treatment can be provided.
Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (Cpap)
Is the most common treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. Many patients experience instant symptom relief, an increase in concentration and additional physical energy. A CPAP machine prevents sleep apnea by blowing air into a mask that covers the nose and mouth. The stream of air keeps the airways open.
However, being able to breathe through your nose is required for CPAP to work.
Mandibular Advancement Devices are the second most common treatment for sleep apnea, normally reserved for mild to moderate cases. This treatment involves an oral appliance that is worn at night. The appliance normally consists of an appliance that fits over the upper teeth and an appliance that fits over the lower teeth. The two appliances are connected in such a way that the lower jaw is advanced forward a few millimeters, reducing or eliminating the obstruction that was causing the apnea. These devices are also a great alternative to traveling with your CPAP.
Surgery As Treatment For Sleep Apnea
We perform a sleep apnea risk assessment on every patient. If we feel you may be at risk of having sleep apnea, we will send you home with a simple to use device, that will provide us with the proper diagnosis. If you are confirmed to have sleep apnea we will discuss all possible treatment routes.
When using CPAP, the airway is stented open by a constant flow of air through the nose. If a patient cannot breathe adequately through their nose, then CPAP does not work well. If this is a concern, please discuss nasal surgery with Dr. Denson.
Orthognathic surgery can increase the size of your airway thus reducing episodes of sleep apnea. Other than a tracheostomy (a surgical breathing hole made in your trachea below your voice box), orthognathic surgery is often the best surgical management for sleep apnea. A patient’s overall health influences whether orthognathic surgery is a safe and valid treatment option.