Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. This can happen hundreds of times a night, and can lead to a number of serious health problems.
People with sleep apnea often snore loudly, and may experience pauses in their breathing that can last for several seconds to minutes. These pauses can cause the person to wake up briefly, leading to fragmented and poor quality sleep. As a result, people with sleep apnea often feel tired and sleepy during the day, and may have difficulty concentrating or staying awake.
There are two main types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). OSA is the most common type, and occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open during sleep. CSA, on the other hand, occurs when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
Risk factors for sleep apnea include being overweight or obese, having a large neck circumference, and having a family history of the disorder. Other risk factors include being over the age of 40, having chronic nasal congestion, and having a history of alcohol or sedative use.
Untreated sleep apnea can lead to a number of serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can also increase the risk of car accidents and other accidents due to daytime sleepiness.
Treatment for sleep apnea typically involves the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which delivers air pressure through a mask that is worn during sleep. This helps to keep the airway open and prevent pauses in breathing. Other treatments may include lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sedatives, and sleeping on your side, as well as oral appliances, surgery, and other medical devices.
For those who have tried it all and just flat out hate the CPAP machine, or for those who don’t want to waste their time trying all the other “quick” fixes out there that seldom work, oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea will have you sleeping soundly this holiday season. Using an oral appliance similar to a mouthguard used in sports (but smaller, lighter and more custom fit), is all that is needed to help put your sleep apnea symptoms to rest.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, it is important to start treatment right away as sleep apnea can be dangerous when left untreated. To learn more about our oral appliance therapy, call our office at 858-538-8300.