Do You Think You Have Sleep Apnea?
Signs and Symptoms
While you are sleeping, it is best to breathe through your nose. Your nose will moisten and warm the air to body temperature. Do you know if you stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer? Do you awaken suddenly with a ‘start’? This is sleep apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a dangerous sleeping disorder.
Yes, it is not uncommon for children to have sleep apnea. Treatments include early braces to help permanent teeth erupt in the proper position as well as the removal of tonsils and adenoids.
Many people who suffer from OSA have daytime sleepiness, even after they think they’ve gotten a full night of rest. This is because obstructive sleep apnea only wakes you enough to get your body breathing again. You may not even remember waking throughout the night, especially if your symptoms have gone untreated for some time.
Snoring is a very strong sign that you may have sleep apnea. It doesn’t mean that you definitely have it, but it is a very good indicator. On the other hand, you may have sleep apnea even if you don’t snore. The only way to tell for sure is to undergo a sleep study.
Once diagnosed, treating sleep apnea is fairly straightforward. However, untreated sleep apnea is very dangerous. Fatigue and sleep deprivation will not improve without treatment. In addition, several studies show a relationship between untreated OSA and risk of hypertension, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, heart failure, stroke, diabetes, obesity, heart attack, and even death.
While you’re asleep, the muscles supporting the soft tissues in your upper airway relax. This includes your tongue and soft palate. If you have OSA, then when these muscles relax, your airway becomes partially or fully obstructed. Your body is no longer able to get the oxygen it needs. As this goes on, your blood oxygen levels dip. Your brain reacts to the lower oxygen levels by waking you up just enough to reopen your airway. For some people, this awakening may result in gasping, snorting, or choking for air. Others may wake up but not be aware of it. With severe OSA, pauses in breathing during sleep can occur as often as 30 times every hour.
Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with several potential health problems including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
In addition, not getting enough sleep can impair your body’s ability to fight off illness, increase your chances of developing coronary heart disease, increase your chances of developing cancer, impair your cognitive skills including memory, decision-making, problem-solving, reasoning, reaction time, and alertness. Sleep deprivation also has been shown to lower libido, cause weight gain, affect your skin, and make you three times more likely to be involved in a car accident.
Central sleep apnea is similar to OSA in the way that your breathing stops while you’re asleep. Only instead of being caused by airway obstruction, CSA occurs because your brain isn’t sending the proper signals to the muscles controlling your breathing. Central sleep apnea is not as common as obstructive sleep apnea; however, it is equally important to treat them both.
OSA is a type of sleep apnea caused by the partial or full obstruction of your airway while asleep. When you sleep, the muscles around your upper airway relax. For most people, this isn’t a problem. However, for the many people suffering from sleep-disordered breathing problems, this could result in cutting off airflow. This can happen several times every hour resulting in lower oxygen levels, poor sleep quality, and a slew of other medical conditions. OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea.
Yes. Depending on the feedback collected, your sleep study data can help a sleep specialist identify which type of sleep apnea is present. It can also identify other sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, parasomnias, and restless leg syndrome.
If you or a loved one suspect you may have sleep apnea, then the first thing you want to do is speak with your doctor or a dentist trained and experienced in sleep medicine. Be sure to advise them of any symptoms you’re experiencing, even if you don’t necessarily think they are related. OSA can affect our bodies in ways we don’t realize. Your doctor or dentist will evaluate your symptoms and perform an exam before they recommend you to a sleep specialist for further evaluation. At this point, you’ll undergo a sleep study to get a better understanding of what happens to your body while you sleep.
Most sleep studies take between 8 and 9 hours when you factor in the prep and the testing itself. In some cases, patients may be asked to repeat the test if not enough data was gathered during the first night.
A sleep study or polysomnography is a way to monitor your body while you sleep. These are typically done in a sleep center or sleep lab; however, at-home versions do exist as well.
During the study, you’ll be connected to various sensors and equipment to monitor your heart, lung, and brain activity. In addition, the sensors will also monitor breathing patterns, movement, and blood oxygen levels. You may be monitored for a full night or as a split-night study.
Overall, the data collected during the polysomnogram will be evaluated to determine if you suffer from sleep apnea or if you have a different sleep disorder.
A split-night sleep study involves monitoring you for the first half of the night, then if you’re diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, they’ll wake you up and provide a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for the second half of the night. This allows them to test this treatment option and adjust settings on the CPAP machine as needed.
Yes. Effectively using sleep apnea therapy options will lower blood pressure and treat other symptoms related to sleep apnea. Once you tread the disorder, those symptoms go away after a short period of time. In fact, some patients advise that they start to feel better after the first night. It is important to remember, however, if you stop treatment then the symptoms will return.
Absolutely. As long as you adhere to your treatment plan, you’ll notice a drastic reduction or elimination of symptoms. You’ll start to experience an improved quality of life, improved cognitive abilities, and so much more. Finding the best treatment for you is the key to unlocking your potential when it comes to effectively treating your sleep apnea.
If you’re looking for sleep apnea therapy without CPAP machines, then sleep apnea oral appliances are probably your best bet. Oral appliance therapy is comparable to wearing a mouth guard while you sleep. Many patients prefer this treatment option over CPAP treatment because it is more comfortable, portable, you don’t need to have access to electricity, and easy to clean.
Depending on your situation, you may benefit more from another type of sleep apnea therapy machine. In addition to the CPAP, other options include bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP), and automatic positive airway pressure (APAP).
You aren’t alone. There are several people who don’t tolerate a sleep apnea treatment machine for a variety of reasons. Some people say they’re uncomfortable, they’re too loud, they wake their partner up, they are difficult to travel with, you must have access to electricity, they are difficult to clean, and the list goes on. Thankfully, there are more treatments sleep apnea patients can choose from. In fact, we’re currently seeing more and more patients choose sleep apnea treatment alternatives to get away from the machines.
A BiPAP machine provides two distinct levels of positive airway pressure. One level is for inhalation, while the other level is for exhalation. These are often used to treat sleep apnea patients with severe OSA by helping them cycle air in and out of their bodies more effectively.
MAD therapy uses a dental appliance to move the lower jaw forward to help keep the airway open. Adherence rates for MAD therapy tend to be much higher than those for CPAP therapy. Most sleep apnea treatment devices focus on repositioning the jaw, supporting the soft palate, and restraining the tongue though they’re all slightly different.
These devices are all custom-made to fit your mouth for comfort and effectiveness. In order to get one, you’ll need to speak with a dentist trained and experienced in sleep medicine.
An APAP machine works within a range and automatically adjusts to the patient’s pressure needs throughout the night.
CPAP therapy uses a machine that provides continuous positive airway pressure to help prevent the upper airways from collapsing. The machine itself gently pushes a steady flow of air through a hose connected to a mask that patients wear over their nose or nose and mouth. There are other types of machines that perform similar functions.
The best treatment for sleep apnea is one that you’ll use consistently. There are a variety of sleep apnea treatments available on the market. One of the most popular is the use of CPAP machines. However, many people don’t tolerate these machines well for one reason or another. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see a decrease in use after a few months. If you’re not following your treatment plan, then it won’t be very effective. It’s best to find a treatment option that you’ll follow consistently to ensure you’re getting all you need out of your treatment.
Oral devices can be used by patients with mild to moderate OSA. Common types of dental appliances include mandibular advancement devices (MAD), mandibular advancement splints (MAS), mandibular repositioning appliances (MRA), and tongue restraining devices (TRD).