Sleep apnea is a common condition that literally prevents a person from breathing properly when sleeping.
Until recently, very few people received treatment for sleep apnea because this condition can be difficult to detect. Fortunately, public awareness of sleep apnea, its effects, and symptoms has greatly increased in recent years, leading to record breaking numbers of people seeking treatment. Our team at NRH Orthodontics offers treatment for sleep apnea so that members of our community can achieve the rest they deserve.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Since a person is sleeping during episodes of apnea, this condition is practically impossible to diagnose without a sleep study. Many times, people end up seeking a sleep apnea diagnosis after someone they live or sleep with notices symptoms like gasping for air during rest or excessively loud snoring. Some patients with untreated sleep apnea notice that they wake up with headaches and dry mouth. Another common indicator of sleep apnea is the sensation of always feeling tired – even after what seems like the right amount of rest. Severe instances of untreated sleep apnea can include symptoms like memory loss, depression, and diminished motor function.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing sleep apnea is done by performing an oral examination and referring a person for a sleep study. A sleep study involves monitoring a patient’s vitals like breathing patterns, pulse and blood pressure while sleeping. During a sleep study, data is collected by sensors and compiled into a report. Any instances where breathing stops is recorded. After the results of the study are reviewed, patients will receive their diagnosis. After a diagnosis is given, a person is free to explore their treatment options.
NRH Orthodontics offers oral appliance therapy. This type of treatment is non-invasive and comfortable. Instead of surgery or the need for bulky respiratory machinery, patients will sleep with oral appliances that fit inside the mouth. Resembling a mouthguard, an oral appliance is designed to position the lower jaw outward so that the airway can be increased. Increasing a patient’s airway can alleviate symptoms and reduce the incidences of sleep apnea.
If you believe you might have sleep apnea, or if you are curious about non-surgical sleep apnea treatment, call NRH Orthodontics to schedule a consultation.
Sleep Apnea FAQs
Many people with sleep apnea tend to snore but not all those who snore have sleep apnea. Since snoring – especially loud and obstructive snoring – is a common indicator of this sleep disorder, it is important that people who snore loudly be screened for obstructive sleep apnea.
Screening for sleep apnea might include a quick examination of the airways along with answering questions about typical sleep apnea symptoms. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea or are at risk for this condition, your physician or oral healthcare provider might recommend a sleep study. A sleep study involves wearing sensors that monitor vitals like blood pressure and breathing patterns throughout sleep. Data is then collected and if apnea occurs during sleep, it will be detectable for an accurate diagnosis.
There are quite a few health risks associated with untreated sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes sleep deprivation. Over time, without proper rest, the symptoms of sleep deprivation become more obvious and severe. Severe sleep deprivation causes memory loss, motor coordination problems, a weakened immune system, and reduced organ function.
In addition to the many dangers of sleep deprivation, various scientific studies have found that cardiovascular and pulmonary health problems are linked to the incidence of obstructive sleep apnea. Some research suggests that the irregular breathing patterns caused by sleep apnea negatively affects the cardiovascular system by weakening the heart muscle. Moreover, irregular breathing can affect oxygen levels in one’s blood, which affects all of the body’s many functions. Since there are quite a few health risks associated with sleep apnea in addition to the debilitating effects of sleep deprivation, it is strongly recommended that patients seek treatment for sleep apnea as soon as possible.
Yes, you can have sleep apnea even if you aren’t one who snores. While snoring commonly accompanies sleep apnea, it is not always the case for all patients. Sleep apnea is caused by airway obstruction. Airway obstruction can be caused by excessive or bulky throat tissue, overdeveloped soft tissue at the back of the mouth, and malocclusions. Even if you don’t snore, it is important to rule out sleep apnea with a consultation or sleep study if you have common symptoms of sleep apnea.
Oral appliance therapy is a non-invasive treatment protocol for obstructive sleep apnea. Appliance therapy is often considered an effective alternative to the need for CPAP machines. Unlike respiratory machinery, oral appliances do not require electricity or bulky components. Instead, patients will wear a custom mouthguard-like appliance that positions the lower mandible forward to increase the diameter of the airway. With an increased diameter, many patients find relief because they can breathe better during rest.
Sometimes episodes of apnea can occur if one takes certain medications like antihistamines or sedatives and after drinking alcohol. There is a percentage of people with sleep apnea who see relief from their symptoms upon losing weight. For the most part, however, sleep apnea is persistent and does not go away on its own.