Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition in which an individual repeatedly stops breathing while he or she sleeps. These episodes of not breathing can happen hundreds of times a night. All of this occurs without the patient’s knowledge as they are sleeping.
What are the different types of sleep apnea?
The most prevalent type of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and is caused by an obstruction of the airway. The two main culprits for this blockage are 1) excess tissue in the airway and 2) the tongue. During sleep we lose muscle tone. This allows the throat tissue and tongue to collapse and occlude the airway. OSA is a manifestation of anatomical problems
Central sleep apnea (CSA) is much less common. With central sleep apnea, the brain fails to send the neurologic signals to the diaphragm to initiate breathing.
What causes sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea has a number of causes. Sleep apnea is usually caused by mechanical and structural problems (blocked nasal passages, deviated septum, excessive tissue in the throat and tongue) in the airway that interfere with breathing while you sleep.
Do I have Sleep Apnea?
Almost anyone can develop sleep apnea. It is estimated that over 15 million Americans have some form of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is slightly higher in men. Also, individuals that snore are at an increased risk for OSA. Plus, patient that are overweight, diabetic of have high blood pressure are at an increased risk. Lastly, research suggest that sleep apnea can also be hereditary.
I snore, do I have sleep apnea?
No. The only way to determine if you have sleep apnea is to take a sleep test. Although snoring is a strong risk factor for sleep apnea, the two are not necessarily synonymous. If you snore, you may want to contact our office to discuss sleep apnea.
I stop breathing at night. How do I start breathing again?
During a sleep apnea event, your body experiences a decrease in oxygen blood saturation and elevated carbon dioxide blood levels. The brain senses the dangerous blood levels and awakens the patient from a deep sleep. The brain send signals to the body to BREATHE! This alert is usually accompanied by a gasp or snort. Once the obstruction is cleared the patient returns to a deep sleep only to be aroused when the airway gets blocked again. These constant arousals prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep and rob you of the rejuvenating aspects of sleep. Many patients awake forty to sixty times an hour and are unaware of these awakenings in the morning.
What are the effects of sleep apnea?
The number one effect of sleep apnea is a lack of quality, restful and rejuvenating sleep. This can lead to simple problems such as drowsiness during the day. Or a major concern is drowsy driving. Furthermore, sleep apena has many serious health risks such as High Blood Pressure, Stroke, Diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Mild sleep apnea can be treated with minor behavioral adjustments, such as sleeping on your side (positional sleeping) or losing weight. Mild to Moderate Sleep Apnea can be treated with oral appliances of a CPAP machine.
Does OSA require surgery?
Our sleep apnea dentists can help eliminate obstructive sleep apnea without surgery. This is done by using an oral appliance. Oral appliance therapy moves the lower jaw and tongue downward and forward. This keeps the airway open and reduces apneic events. The oral appliance is custom made and worn at night. The oral appliance is adjustable and Dr. Nugent will gradually titrate the jaw forward until optimal position is achieved.
How can I eliminate or minimize my heavy snoring?
Many traditional snoring treatments use burdensome pressurization equipment (CPAP) to open the airway by ramming air down the throat. A simpler, and more effective method is to keep the airway open by utilizing a simple dental appliance. The appliance moves the lower jaw downward and forward to prevent snoring.
Why should I get treated for sleep apnea?
The lack of quality sleep can take a huge toll on one’s life. Sleep apnea has many dangerous health risks. Sleep apnea patients grumble about a lack of energy, decreased concentration, lousy productivity, slowed metabolism, and loss of quality of life. Furthermore, sleep apnea can lead dangerous conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and even sudden death.
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
Many patients come to us because their partners or family members observed their apneic events (gasping or snorting for air) or heavy snoring.
If you are not aware of a nighttime breathing problem, ask yourselves these questions:
- Do you snore on a regular basis, or wake others in your household up?
- Do you fall asleep at unusual times during your day?
- Do you have morning headaches or frequent sore throat or dry mouth?
- Do you awaken frequently at night gasping for air?
- Are you excessively tired during the day?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should consider getting a thorough sleep evaluation from our Pasadena Texas sleep dentist.