Why do I need sleep?
For our bodies to function at optimal performance, they need rest, repair and rejuvenation time. The rest we get during proper sleep allows for restorative processes like tissue repair and muscle growth. It also supports a process called neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.
When we fail to get adequate sleep, this can lead to a number of problems. These can range in severity from issues like irritability and poor memory to increased risk of hypertension , heart attack, diabetes, and depression.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is when breathing stops or is significantly decreased one or more times during sleep. More technically, it occurs when airflow is decreased by at least 80% for more than 10 seconds. These pauses in breathing can happen 30 or more times an hour.
So what exactly happens?
When you sleep the body is relaxed and muscle tone is reduced. This tongue and the tissue in the back of the throat relax and block the airy. This causes an interruption the normal inhalation of oxygen and exhalation of carbon dioxide.
This obstruction leads to hypoxia (lack of oxygen reaching the tissues) and carbon dioxide build up.
The brain signals the body to breathe, which leads to arousal. Patients wake up, muscle activity increases, gasp for air, clear the obstruction and go back into deep sleep. All of this happens without the person knowing they are waking up.
As you fall back asleep, the above cycle repeats itself again throughout the night.
The chances of having OSA increase if you are overweight, but anyone can be affected.
Signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea:
- loud snoring
- waking up with the sensation of choking or gasping
- waking up with a very dry, sore throat
- headaches in the morning
- never feeling rested after a nights sleep
- irritability and a decreased ability to concentrate
How can I treat Sleep Apnea?
- There are ways you can lower your risk of OSA. These include:
- Maintain a healthy weight- excess weight is a leading cause of OSA.
- Limit the use of system depressants- sedatives, alcohol and tranquilizers can all relax the muscles in the throat and exacerbate OSA.
- Quit smoking- Among the other negatives of the habit, smokers are 3 times more likely to have OSA than those who have never smoked.
- Surgery- if the cause of your OSA is more anatomical in nature – large tongue, thicker walls of the throat, naturally narrow airway – your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the excess tissue.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)– perhaps the most common treatment of severe OSA and what medical doctors know. However, this machine covers your nose and mouth and rams air down the throat to prevent collapse. The patient is tethered to a machine and there is a large hose in the way preventing movement during sleep.
Mandibular advancement devices (MADs)– are a great alternative to the more cumbersome CPAP machines for people with OSA. The best results are seen in mild and moderate patients. Yet, it iss also an alternative for people with severe apnea are CPAP intolerant. The dental device pulls the lower jaw and tongue down and forward. This opens up the airway and keeps the airway from collapsing.
If you think you or a loved one might suffer from OSA, don’t delay in speaking to your doctor or our office at 832-487-0647 or come by the office at 3431 Burke #1, Pasadena, Texas 77504.