New Orleans Sleep Apnea
DO I HAVE SLEEP APNEA?
Snoring isn’t sexy, but it may also be an indication of a more serious medical problem called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Typically, someone with obstructive sleep apnea will snore heavily, and then stop breathing. There is effort to breathe, but air is unable to get through due to an obstruction of the airway stemming from a collapse of muscles and tissues near the throat. The person will then gasp and partially awaken in order to breathe.
The resulting repeated lack of oxygen to the brain puts extra strain on the heart, increasing blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, and other health problems.
1 in 5 adults has at least mild OSA.
Sleep apnea can affect anyone regardless of age or weight, although it does occur more often in men who are overweight and over 40. Risk also increases in direct relation to alcohol consumption and smoking. Often the person with sleep apnea is totally unaware of the problem and may deny the fact that he/she even snores.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Shirt collar size is one of eight signs of sleep apnea. If you have a neck size of 16 inches or more as a woman, and 17 inches as a man, you have a higher risk of having sleep apnea. Always feeling tired is another key symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. By determining your level of daytime sleepiness, sleep physicians and dentists can gain insight into how severe your sleep deprivation is.
Sleep Apnea Health Consequences
Untreated obstructive sleep apnea is associated with many life threatening diseases. People with untreated sleep apnea are 3 times more likely to have heart disease than those not afflicted. They also face risk of stroke 4 times greater than individuals withou.
It is estimated that over 40,000 people in America die each year from complications of sleep apnea (cardiovascular problems in some way connected to sleep apnea. That is over 100 deaths every single day, just in the United States alone.
Taking a Sleep Study
When there is a suspicion of a sleep disorder, your physician will recommend taking a sleep study. A sleep study measures how much and how well you sleep, and is required in order to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
A polysomnogram (PSG) is an in-lab sleep study performed overnight in a sleep center.
A home sleep test (HST) is a portable sleep study performed in the comfort of your home.
Your sleep study results will include all kinds of information about how you sleep, including whether you have obstructive sleep apnea and how severe it is if you do. Obstructive sleep apnea is classified as mild, moderate or severe based on the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI).
Neither snoring nor sleep apnea should be taken lightly as your health is at stake. If you believe that you or your loved one may have sleep apnea, contact your physician or sleep apnea dentist today!
SNORING IS NOT NORMAL
So many people snore, everyone thinks it’s normal.
Most people think that snoring is just what some people do, but in fact sleeping should be a quiet activity. Snoring is not natural and unless you are suffering from a cold or congestion, you should breathe effortlessly when you are awake or asleep.
Yet night after night, 1 in 3 adults snore on a regular basis and up to 50% snore occasionally. That adds up to about 80 million snoring adults.
What causes snoring?
Snoring may be more than a nuisance. The sound you hear when someone snores is a vibration caused by an obstruction of the airway! The classic snoring sound comes from the uvula, the back of the tongue or the other soft tissues of the throat flapping as air passes over them when you breathe during sleep.
Obstructions in the airway causes a decrease of airflow to the lungs, causing a lack of oxygen that can get to the brain.
Airway blockage is the root cause of all snoring problems.
Why can snoring be dangerous?
Snoring can be indicative of a more serious health problem called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA can increase your risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, and stroke. Sleep apnea is a cessation of breathing for 10 seconds or more, occurring more than 4 times per hour during sleep.
Obstructive Sleep apnea is characterized by loud snoring sounds interrupted by periods of silence in which no air passes into the lungs. This lack of oxygen and increase in carbon dioxide will alert the person to partially awaken, forcing the airway to open with a loud gasp. This harmful pattern can occur dozens of times per hour, leading to excessive daytime fatigue and feelings of unrestful sleep upon awakening.
How to stop snoring
Just because you snore or are diagnosed with sleep apnea doesn’t mean you have to live with it. There are many ways to get rid of snoring or manage OSA. Getting better sleep starts with having an understanding of what sleep is, why we need it, and options for feeling better and getting a peaceful night’s sleep.
There are multiple treatment options available for snoring. Before initiating any treatment, it is important to rule out any associated sleep disorders that may be the cause of the snoring.
Does your partner snore?
Did you know that up to 59% of people report that their partner snores in bed?
In addition, 23% of couples sleep in separate beds, a trend increasingly dubbed “sleep divorce”.
Obstructive sleep apnea can cause other problems in the bedroom as well. A common symptom of sleep apnea is erectile dysfunction and a low libido or sex drive. But not all is lost, as it is possible to bring sexy back by managing sleep apnea and snoring.
If you or someone you love snores, a consultation with a health care provider educated in sleep breathing disorders can provide an evaluation to determine if it’s just snoring or a symptom of more serious condition.
1. Institute of Medicine. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2006.
Treatment options range from CPAP to convenient, comfortable and effective oral appliances.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral Appliances are placed in the mouth and are worn much like an orthodontic appliance or sports mouth protector. Worn during sleep to prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat, oral appliances promote adequate air intake and help to provide normal sleep in people who snore and have sleep apnea.
Oral appliances can be used as the first-line therapy for patients who have been diagnosed with mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea, or severe obstructive sleep apnea that cannot tolerate their prescribed CPAP. They can also be used in conjunction with other therapies such as continuous positive air pressure (CPAP). Determination of proper therapy can only be made by joint consultation of your sleep physician and a qualified sleep medicine dentist.
CPAP (continuous positive air pressure applied through a nasal mask) is the most common and standard form of treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The CPAP machine consists of a face or nasal mask that is connected to a pump, providing a positive flow of air into the nasal passages in order to keep the airway open. This pressure ensures that the airway doesn’t collapse during sleep. CPAP is recommended as the first line of treatment for patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea. Patients with mild-to-moderate sleep apnea can usually choose which therapy they would prefer.
While not considered as the first line of treatment for snoring or sleep apnea, surgery may be an effective option for patients who cannot tolerate CPAP or oral appliance therapy. With many surgical options available, it is up to the surgeon to find where the obstruction is in the patient’s upper airway or nasal passage and determine what the best solution is. Surgery is typically more effective in the treatment of snoring than for sleep apnea.
Other Therapy Attempts
Many people’s first attempt at addressing health issues is to see if lifestyle adjustments will improve their condition. Snoring can sometimes be improved by losing weight, limiting smoking and alcohol intake, or avoiding sedatives. In some patients, snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are related to sleeping on one’s back. In these instances, improvements can be seen by sleeping on the side rather than the back.
Your dental office can help you determine the most effective sleep apnea treatment.