Obstructive sleep apnea is a widely misunderstood condition affecting millions of Americans. It is estimated that over half of those afflicted are unaware of it. Additionally, a large percentage of diagnosed cases are untreated.
What is apnea?
Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. Central sleep apnea is a rare form of the condition caused by the central nervous system failing to send the signals to stimulate breathing. The vast majority of apnea cases are caused by an obstruction in the airway, physically blocking breathing. This is called obstructive sleep apnea.
The pauses in breathing during an apneic event may last ten seconds or longer. While this may not seem like a significant amount of time, it triggers a chain reaction in the body, increasing blood pressure and heart rate, making major organs to work harder, and disrupting deep sleep. Occurring many times each hour, the cumulative effects can be devastating to your health.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who snores habitually may want to consider being tested for sleep apnea. Although snoring can be relatively harmless, it is also the most common and most noticeable symptom of sleep apnea. Most people snore loudly following an apneic event, as the lungs work to take in extra oxygen. Other symptoms include fatigue, excess daytime sleepiness, impaired mental functioning, or poor motor skills. Untreated, apnea may lead to serious health conditions such as heart disease or stroke.
How is it treated?
The traditional, medical treatment of obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP. This machine forces air into the airway keeping it from collapsing. Although it is an effective treatment, many people find the noise, inconvenience, and uncomfortable mask intolerable. Clint Bruyere, DDS, your trusted dental care provider in Longview, offers an excellent alternative to CPAP.
We will help you arrange a sleep study (needed for diagnosis), and recommend the best treatment. Oral appliance therapy is considered the gold standard treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea. It is also recommended for patients with severe apnea, who cannot tolerate CPAP. The device is small, lightweight, and convenient. It is customized to your mouth (similar to the process or making a denture) for a comfortable fit, and maximum effectiveness.
If you have, or are concerned about apnea call 903-708-6116 and schedule an appointment today – for better sleep, and better health.