Sleep apnea is a chronic disorder that can be potentially life threatening when left untreated. The condition, which translates to “without breath,” is characterized by involuntary pauses in breathing or shallowness of breath while asleep. Since it can be difficult to identify by yourself, sleep apnea is often left undiagnosed. A telltale sign that you may have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA; the most common form) is snoring, which is why loved ones may be the first to notice there is a problem.
Living with sleep apnea holds very serious risks to your health. Since the disorder prevents you from getting adequate or quality sleep, it can contribute to a variety of problems, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Sudden cardiac death
Due to the severity of sleep apnea, those who snore loudly should consider undergoing a sleep study to learn whether the disorder is at fault.
How Does Sleep Apnea Occur?
Sleep apnea is most prevalent among men, those who are overweight, and people over 40 years old, though it can occur at any age. When a person snores, the airway is being partially blocked, which leads to the muffled noise that is paired with a vibrating sensation. Oftentimes, OSA is the reason for this snoring, as it restricts the air passage, if not completely blocking it. When this happens, the individual stops breathing anywhere from 10 seconds to minutes at a time. They will typically resume breathing after choking or gasping for air, which interrupts their sleep pattern each time. Some people may experience breathing pauses anywhere from 30 to 300 times per night.
In addition to obstructive sleep apnea, there are two other forms of the disorder: central and mixed sleep apnea. While OSA is caused by soft tissue in the throat restricting airflow, central sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not signal your breathing muscles to function. This is most common in those with certain medical conditions. Mixed apnea is when the two previously mentioned apneas occur at the same time.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
While you will need to attend a sleep study to first be diagnosed with sleep apnea, Dr. Douglas Desatnik can help you find relief. At Chagrin Highlands Dental Group, we offer treatment for sleep apnea through oral appliance therapy. These plastic mouthpieces are custom-made for each individual for optimal results. Utilizing one of these devices can effectively open up the throat by realigning your lower jaw and tongue as you sleep, which helps you breathe normally all night.
In the past, the only way to treat sleep apnea was with the continuous positive airway (CPAP) device. While this can correct sleep apnea, the machine is known for being extremely uncomfortable, which causes people to not wear the device. As a result, they achieve no progress with their condition. Treatment via an oral appliance has proven to be especially beneficial since it is a much more pleasant form of therapy, allowing patients to find relief without discomfort.
If you would like more information about sleep apnea, or if you have been diagnosed with the condition and wish to pursue treatment, please feel free to contact us to schedule your complimentary consultation.