Sleep apnea is a really common sleep disorder that can affect anyone. It usually manifests as loud snoring in sleep due to a blockage or impairment in the respiratory tract. It can last for a few seconds to a few minutes. In worse cases, it can happen more than 30 times in a single hour.
It’s estimated that half of Americans 40 years old and above experience obstructive snoring in their sleep, with more men affected than women. Apart from gender and age, genetics is also a factor.
The bad thing about this condition is that it blocks or impairs the flow of oxygen to the different organs and cells of the body. This results in a decline in their functions. It’s one good reason why most people with this condition wake up feeling tired even after several hours of sleep.
- Snoring – Snoring is one of the most obvious signs of the condition. It can be interrupted by gasps despite the patient being asleep. Take note, however, that snoring doesn’t directly indicate apnea. There are other factors that can cause someone to snore in his sleep.
- Drowsiness – Because there’s less oxygen reaching your organs, you may experience daytime drowsiness. You’ll yawn even during broad daylight and you’ll struggle to fight off drowsiness.
- Other Symptoms – Apart from the symptoms above, you also need to closely observe for the following signs:
- Headaches during the morning
- Poor memory and focus
- Mood swings
- Dry mouth in the morning
- Frequently waking up in the middle of the night just to urinate
- Weight gain or obesity
Obstructive snoring can happen to anyone and that means kids can also have it. Children with this condition will often exhibit sudden laziness and bursts of hyperactivity. They may have a hard time keeping up at school and you’ll find them breathing through their noses throughout the day.
In the US, 2 to 3% of children experience sleep apnea. 10 to 20% of children, however, snore out of habit while they’re sleeping.
Below are a couple of questions. Your answers will help you know if you need to see your doctor to get this condition treated.
If you have positive answers to the first two questions from the questionnaire below, be sure to schedule an appointment to your doctor as soon as possible.
Q1. Is anyone in the family or someone who sleeps near you told you that you frequently snore in your sleep?
Q2. Do you often find yourself feeling sleepy during the day or whenever you need to do an activity that requires intense focus?
Q3. Do you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night?
Q4. Are you yawning frequently?
Q5. Do you experience headaches upon waking up?
Q6. Are you experiencing depression with no obvious reasons?
Q7. Are you having a hard time keeping up with memorizations and focusing?
Q8. Does your tongue feel dry in the morning?
Q9. Do you have high blood pressure?
Q10. Are you obese or overweight?
Obstructive snoring causes the supply of oxygen to your organs to decrease. This can lead to serious problems, including death in babies. For adults, the condition can predispose them to diabetes, heart diseases and stroke. Additionally, it can also greatly lower a person’s level of energy due to insufficient rest.
If you are experiencing any of the effects above, it’s best to consult your doctor so that you can get thoroughly examined. Your physician will take a good look at your family history as well as conduct a physical assessment. If he suspects that you have the condition, he’ll refer you to a sleep apnea specialist.
Take note that physical assessment alone can’t diagnose it right away. First, you’ll be subjected to a sleep study, particularly if your doctor suspects that you have mild to severe sleep apnea.
Sleep studies are considered as the most accurate means of diagnosing the condition. It typically involves the placement of several sensors that will track certain parameters while you sleep. Those include eye movements, nasal airflow, snoring, eye movement, oxygen level, and brain activity.
The procedure is painless and it can be conveniently done in a sleep apnea clinic. There are, however, portable tools which function the same way. It’s generally used to monitor patients at home.
Sleep apnea has several types of levels and the treatments they require varies:
- Obstructive snoring requires different treatments. For mild cases, some changes in the patient’s’ lifestyle are required. This includes quitting smoking, reducing weight, sleeping on the side, and taking medications to keep the airway open. In severe cases, a breathing device, such as a CPAP, may be necessary. Surgery as well as oral devices like Somnodent may also be advised.
- Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, responds well to adaptive servo-ventilation, bi-level PAP, CPA, and specific medications. Your physician will need to know the its cause before you can get the condition treated properly.
There are several treatment options for people who suffer from this but the most commonly used is the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP.
- How Does It Work? – A CPAP is a machine that delivers air into your airway through a mask you put over your mouth and nose. The pressure it delivers allows your airways to remain open and clear, ensuring a steadier and better supply of oxygen. The machine is typically prescribed by a sleep apnea specialist.
- What are the Steps Involved? – Typically, a technician will deliver the CPAP machine into your home and set it up based on what your doctor orders. The settings will usually depend on the results of your sleep tests. A CPAP machine can effectively decrease or prevent snoring that’s related to the loss of oxygen while sleeping. Using it can dramatically improve your energy level as well as the quality of your life. Take note that you must not stop using it without the approval of your doctor. Do that and you can expect the symptoms to return quickly.
Despite being effective, CPAP isn’t for everyone. In other people, it causes problems like dry mouth, stuffy nose, irritated skin on the face, and headaches. And if the machine isn’t set up properly, it can also lead to stomach bloating. Wearing the mask doesn’t cause pain but it can cause discomfort when worn. Additionally, the size of the machine can make it hard to handle and manipulate.
Today, there are better and cheaper solutions to sleep apnea that don’t require surgery or cause pain. In most cases, the cause lies within the oral cavity. For example, as the throat falls back, it causes obstruction to the airway, reducing the amount of oxygen that enters the body. Placing a plastic oral device in your throat can help address that.
Such device called Somnodent and all its variations work really well in stopping obstructed breathing. However, for them to be really effective, they need to fit your throat perfectly. This is why your dentist needs to measure your oral cavity to ensure the right fit. Once the measurements are taken, the device will be created based on that. You’ll need to wear it during sleep to keep your airways open.
The device offers so many advantages which is why more and more patients are choosing them. It’s easy to fit and it rarely causes pain. About 90% of patients had no problems with it and even reported a dramatic change in the quality of their lives. It doesn’t get in the way of one’s smiling, speaking or mouth movements. You can easily adjust it to eliminate obstruction. Additionally, you can actually use the device with your CPAP machine.
Somnodent is much less expensive than a CPAP machine. Depending on the severity of your condition and treatment, it can cost you about $1,000 to $4,000. Additionally, the device is typically covered by insurances just like a CPAP machine is.
Create an appoint with our OC dental clinic today. You can find us in Orange County, CA, in Costa Mesa, just a few minutes away from Irvine. Our team of qualified Silent Nite and Somnodent-certified dentists can help you decide on the best sleep apnea treatment for you.