What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Healthy sleep refreshes the mind and body. Without good sleep, the human body doesn’t function at capacity. In fact, many of our systems are disrupted by a lack of sleep. Between 50 and 70 million adults in the United States suffer from a sleep disorder, according to the American Sleep Association. Over 14% have trouble falling asleep, while nearly 18% can’t stay asleep all night.
The most common sleep disorder is OSA, obstructive sleep apnea, and it is treatable by your dentist. If you suffer from one or more of these symptoms, it’s time to visit [digipractice] to find out if you’re a victim of a sleep disorder.
- Trouble falling and/or remaining asleep
- Pauses in breathing while asleep (often noticed by sleep mate)
- Loud snoring
- Awake from sleep abruptly, gasping or choking
- Daytime fatigue
- Difficulty focusing on tasks
- Fall asleep during times of low activity
- Irritability and moodiness
- High blood pressure
- Morning dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headache
How Obstructive Sleep Apnea Occurs
Oftentimes, a person’s bedmate or roommate notices loud snoring and pauses in breathing before the OSA patient notices these symptoms. In fact, loud snoring can negatively affect a marriage or intimate relationship because both the hearer and OSA patient have interrupted sleep. Both suffer the effects of sleep deprivation.
Snoring occurs when soft tissues in the back of the mouth and throat relax when your body falls asleep. These loose tissues vibrate as air passes by when you inhale and exhale. The vibrations cause the sounds we know as snoring.
Obstructive sleep apnea happens when the soft, loose tissues completely block airflow. The criteria for OSA is that a patient stops breathing for 10 seconds or longer, five or more times in one hour. The OSA patient may experience these “apneic” episodes hundreds of times throughout the night. Each apneic episode can last from a few seconds to over two minutes! In severe cases, a patient spends more time not breathing than breathing while asleep.
Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The standard treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is a continuous positive air pressure machine or CPAP. These devices feature a compressor, water tank, tube, and mask. Lying on his back, the patient wears the mask throughout the night. The compressor forces air into the patient’s lungs continually, so breathing doesn’t stop.
While the CPAP is effective, not all patients can tolerate the device. Some of the most common complaints are:
- Exhale is difficult and can cause shortness of breath
- Excessive air in the belly causes belching, bloating, gas pain, swollen stomach
- Too much noise from the compressor
- Claustrophobia when wearing the mask
- Condensation in the tube reaches the mask, causing the patient to choke
- The patient cannot tolerate sleeping on his back all night
- The patient travels and finds CPAP a cumbersome item to transport
- Nasal congestion, runny nose, dry nose
- Irritation around the mask
- Dry eyes
- Sore throat
- An ill-fitting mask allows air to escape
Schedule Your Appointment Now
Do you snore loudly or experience any of the obstructive sleep apnea symptoms listed above? Untreated, OSA can lead to an increased risk of stroke, arrhythmias, heart attack, or atrial fibrillation. People with heart disease are also at risk of low blood oxygen levels leading to sudden death. Don’t let sleep apnea steal your marriage, health, quality of life, or your life itself. Call us now for an appointment at Gentle Dental Care, Dr. George Mui DDS, LTD in Mt. Prospect.