Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that affects millions of Americans. It occurs when breathing is blocked or partially blocked during sleep, causing your lungs to not receive enough oxygen. If left untreated, those who suffer from sleep apnea can experience significant health-related problems such as:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood pressure in the lungs
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Restless sleep
  • Heart failure

Our doctors are trained in sleep medicine to treat sleep apnea with the latest techniques to ensure you’re getting the care you need to restore your healthy, restful night’s sleep. Working in coordination with board certified sleep physicians, our doctors can create a comprehensive treatment plan just for you.

What are Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

While excessive or disruptive snoring is the most common symptom, there are many other indicators that may signal you have sleep apnea:

  • Persistent snoring
  • Insomnia
  • Daytime exhaustion
  • Repeatedly waking up and gasping during sleep
  • Morning headaches
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Waking up with sore or a dry mouth
  • Stop breathing during sleep
  • Tossing and turning during sleep
  • Weight gain

Who Is At Risk For Sleep Apnea?

Even though sleep apnea can affect anyone regardless of age, weight, and gender, these factors indicate a higher likelihood of having sleep apnea:

  • Mouth breathing: Sleeping with the mouth open is a sign that the nasal airway is obstructed. Nasal obstruction causes the jaw to drop, reducing the diameter of the pharyngeal airway and increasing the likelihood of obstructive sleep apnea. If you know a sleeping mouth breather, they may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Excess weight: Fat deposits around the neck and chin may obstruct your breathing. Keep in mind though, not everyone who has sleep apnea is overweight. Thin people suffer from OSA as well.
  • Neck size (circumference): People with large neck circumferences tend to have narrowed airways as a result. Men with a 17-inch neck size and women with a 16-inch neck size are at higher risk. Another risk factor is excess skin from the chin to the neck. 
  • Family history: If you have family members who suffer from OSA or snoring, you may be at increased risk. There is a hereditary link associated with sleep apnea.
  • Use of alcohol or other sedatives: These substances cause the muscles in your throat to relax, exacerbating sleep breathing issues such as OSA.
  • Smoking: Smokers are three times more likely to suffer from OSA than their non-smoking counterparts. Smoking tends to cause inflammation and fluid retention in the airway, resulting in less space for air to pass through the airway.
  • Being a male: Men are projected to be twice as likely to have sleep apnea. This gap narrows as age increases. Once women reach menopause, the ratio is almost equal.
  • Age: OSA occurs significantly more often in adults that are older than 40.
  • A narrowed airway: You may have a naturally narrowed airway. This is more common in women than in men, and could be a strong indicator of sleep apnea in women.
  • Enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids: Your tonsils and/or adenoids may become enlarged, which lessens the amount of room for air to pass through your airway. In children, this is the most common cause of sleep apnea, in which removal is the most effective solution.
  • Jaw structure: A lower jaw that is undersized compared to the upper jaw.

Sleep Apnea Statistics

Public health and safety are threatened by the increasing prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea, which now afflicts at least 25 million adults in the US, according to the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project. (AASM News Archive)

“Obstructive sleep apnea is destroying the health of millions of Americans, and the problem has only gotten worse over the past two decades”, American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler.

Findings from new studies emphasize the negative effects of sleep apnea on the brain and heart health: however, these health risks can be reduced through the effective treatment of sleep apnea. (AASM News Archive).

A person afflicted with untreated obstructive sleep apnea is up to 4 times more likely to have a stroke, as well as 3 times more likely to have heart disease.

Approximately 50% of all patients who have hypertension, or high blood pressure, are also afflicted with obstructive sleep apnea.

People suffering from OSA are as much as 6 times more likely to be involved in a car crash than those without sleep disorders. This is due to the fact that they are drowsy from lack of sleep.

What can Happen if Sleep Apnea is not Treated?

Obstructive sleep apnea causes hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure and if left untreated, could reduce life expectancy by 10 years or more. With 95% of those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea undiagnosed, sleep apnea may be the number one cause of death.

Oral appliance therapy is used as an alternative to CPAP. It provides a non-invasive form of treatment that has a high level of compliance as it is comfortable, quiet, portable and effective. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, oral appliances are an appropriate 1st line treatment option for sleep apnea patient “with mild to moderate OSA who prefer them to CPAP, or who do not respond to…or who fail treatment attempts with CPAP”. Oral appliances are also the next best treatment option for severe sleep apnea patients who cannot or will not tolerate CPAP.

Contact Us to Learn More

To learn more about Sleep Apnea, please reach out to our practice today.

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