Obstructive Sleep Apnea
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea which occurs when a person’s airway closes and prevents them from taking a breath for at least 10 seconds. Think about this: the average person breathes 12-14 times per minute; that’s once every 4-5 seconds. The typical pause in breathing that happens during sleep apnea lasts for 20-40 seconds. That’s only two or three breaths every minute! Now imagine if you spend a good portion of your night breathing like that; you’d be exhausted!
In fact, waking up feeling tired is one of the main signs of obstructive sleep apnea. Daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, restless sleep, morning headaches, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, depression, unexplained weight gain, acid reflux, night sweats, and irritability are all common signs and symptoms.
Negative effects of Sleep Apnea on your overall health
The trickiest part is, most people don’t realize that they’re suffering from OSA. Usually a bed partner or family member can hear the loud snores or gasps and push their loved one to pursue treatment, so keep an ear out when the ones you care about are sleeping! That feeling of exhaustion isn’t limited to just that, your organs are worn out too! During those periods of not breathing, the amount of oxygen that is present in your heart, liver, kidneys, brain, and other organs plummets, and those very important tissues start to suffer.
Think of it like your insides are aging faster than your outsides. With that comes more systemic issues such as generalized inflammation which causes diabetes, blood pressure, and weight gain, among other things. Many patients who have been frustrated with their inability to control their blood sugar or blood pressure have found they are finally able to do so after being diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
There are a few ways, and some are more pleasant than others. Some patients undergo surgeries to try to open their airway more, but those are very painful experiences that are not only costly but also involve a significant down-time! One of the less invasive ways to treat sleep apnea involves use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices.
CPAP devices are typically considered the gold standard, but the problem is patient tolerance and compliance. Some people can’t stand to wear the device all night so they either don’t use it as often as they are supposed to, or not at all, or they take it off during the night without even realizing they did so. The majority of CPAP machines are bulky, have uncomfortable face masks and constantly blow air in your mouth. Doesn’t sound very comfortable, does it? It’s not! Luckily, there’s an alternative called an Oral Sleep Apnea Appliance.
Oral Sleep Apnea Appliance
An oral sleep apnea appliance is very similar to night guards worn for clenching and grinding, and most patients find that they’re not only comfortable but surprisingly effective.
If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from sleep apnea or heavy snoring, call us to discuss your options.