Sleep. Every human requires it, yet many don’t get the sleep they need for optimal daytime function. Estimates state that 30 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, yet only six million are diagnosed.
Are you undiagnosed?
If you habitually snore, feel tired all day, or your spouse complains that you stop breathing during the night, you may have sleep apnea. Call Dr. Noto at Gallery Dental of Oakbrook in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, for a consultation.
Dr. Noto will discuss your symptoms and concerns, evaluate your mouth and throat, and lead you toward an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, he can prescribe a non-invasive oral appliance that will allow you and your spouse to reclaim restful nights and productive days.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a group of sleep disorders that cause a person to stop breathing for 10 or more seconds, repeatedly while sleeping. These apnoeic episodes can occur hundreds of times in a single night.
The three types of sleep apnea are central, obstructive, and complex. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common, and because it’s a mechanical issue, treatment may be as easy as wearing a sleep appliance.
With OSA, muscles in the throat relax and soft tissues collapse when you sleep. Structures like the uvula, tongue, and tonsils block the airway so that breathing stops. During the 10-plus seconds that this occurs, your brain realizes you aren’t breathing and interrupts sleep. Your brain tells your body to wake up, so your throat muscles reengage and breathing resumes.
Snoring is extremely prevalent in the OSA population because the sound of snoring is actually vibrations of the soft tissues of the throat. When throat muscles relax and soft tissues partially block airflow, those tissues vibrate. Once they collapse to block breathing, an apnoic episode occurs.
Is sleep apnea lethal?
People have died during apnoic episodes. If breathing is infrequent enough, a condition called immediate tissue ischemia (tissue death) can happen in heart and/or brain tissues. This leads to a heart attack or stroke. Sleep apnea patients have a 30% higher risk of death than those without the condition. As a result of OSA, they may also suffer from:
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Heart attack
How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
Often, another person notices the sleep apnea sufferer’s loud snoring and breathless periods while sleeping, or the sufferer wakes up abruptly gasping or choking during the night. If this happens, the snorer should consider whether any of the symptoms above affect his or her life.
Most often, obstructive sleep apnea patients notice a combination of these life-altering symptoms:
- Loud snoring
- Daytime drowsiness
- Falling asleep during low-activity times
- Morning headaches
- Being accident prone
- Impotence or decreased libido
Once a patient sees Dr. Noto with a concern about sleep disturbances, the doctor can discuss symptoms and conduct an exam. If he finds that OSA may be the cause, the doctor will refer to a sleep lab for testing. Should the result be positive for OSA, Dr. Noto will offer non-invasive treatment.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Though some patients require surgery to remove some of the obstructing soft tissues, most people with obstructive sleep apnea can be treated with a simple oral appliance.
A sleep guard, or night guard, holds the lower jaw slightly forward, which keeps soft tissues from blocking the patient’s airway. Sleep guards are often custom-calibrated to achieve the best fit and comfort.
Note that central and complex sleep apnea cannot be fully treated with an oral appliance.
Make Your Appointment Now
Don’t let another restless night go by. Call Dr. Noto at Gallery Dental of Oakbrook today at (630) 620-8300 to reserve your consultation. A simple non-invasive oral appliance may be all you need to abate obstructive sleep apnea, so you can enjoy deep sleep and improved quality of life every day.