Sleep Apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in which breathing stops and then restarts again during sleep. Breathing pauses vary can last from a few seconds to minutes. These episodes can occur several hundred times a night severely disrupting sleep. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound. The term “sleep-disordered breathing” (SDB) includes a spectrum of respiratory disorders ranging in severity from snoring to OSA.
Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep three or more nights each week. You often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep when your breathing pauses or becomes shallow. This results in poor sleep quality that makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when the airway temporarily collapses during sleep, preventing or restricting breathing for up to ten seconds or more. OSA patients will commonly suffer from low oxygen levels in the blood, high blood pressure and an overall decrease in the quality of life due to daytime drowsiness and headaches.
Over 40 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder, and 20 million suffer from OSA. Despite the high prevalence, 93% of women and 82% of men with moderate to severe OSA remain undiagnosed.
In a study, men were found to be two times more likely than women to have OSA. However, men are eight times more likely to be treated for OSA than women. This suggests that the symptoms of OSA in women are often attributed to other conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and fibromyalgia.
Untreated OSA can severely affect quality of life, health and mortality. Clinical research shows that it is linked strongly to a range of serious, even life-threatening, chronic diseases such as stroke, heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease.
- 70 million suffer sleep deprivation of which 40 million have a chronic disorder;
- 20 million OSA patients, only 5% of which have been diagnosed and treated
- The US OSA market is estimated at $2.5 billion with an AGR of over 20%
- Currently, there is a greater than one month patient wait time for sleep lab evaluations.
SDB affects around 20% of the adult population, making it as widespread as diabetes or asthma. Sleep apnea awareness is low. In fact about 90% of people who have OSA remain undiagnosed and untreated. It has become one of the fastest growing causes of respiratory problems.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, your airway can be blocked or narrowed during sleep because:
- Your throat muscles and tongue relax more than normal.
- Your tongue and tonsils (tissue masses in the back of your mouth) are large compared to the opening into your windpipe.
- You are overweight. The extra soft fat tissue can thicken the wall of the windpipe. This causes the inside opening to narrow and makes it harder to keep open.
- The shape of your head and neck (bony structure) may cause a smaller airway size in the mouth and throat area.
- The aging process limits the ability of brain signals to keep your throat muscles stiff during sleep. This makes it more likely that the airway will narrow or collapse.
OSA patients will commonly suffer from low oxygen levels in the blood, high blood pressure and an overall decrease in the quality of life due to daytime drowsiness and headaches.
If you are not sleeping well, it is extremely difficult to lose weight since your body does not achieve stabilization of the circulating hormones (leptin and gherlin) that regulate hunger. Obesity is the dominant factor in 50% of cases of OSA.
The partner of a snorer will lose on average 90 mins (1.5 hours) of sleep per night. Snoring is a leading cause of divorce. A sleep questionnaire developed by the Epworth Hospital is the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. It is a quick and simple guide to be used to grade your level of sleepiness.
Other Symptoms Associated With OSA Include:
- Menstrual irregularities
- Impotence and decreased libido
- Impaired concentration and learning difficulties
- Teeth grinding
- Morning headaches
- The average age of death of untreated sleep apnea is 55 years!
- People with Sleep Apnea have a 15% higher mortality rate than the general population.
- There is an increased risk of elevated blood pressure (hypertension).
- There is a greater incidence of cardiac arrhythmias and higher cholesterol.
- Compared to the general population, people with OSA have a 23% greater chance of a heart attack.
- There is a significantly greater chance of suffering a stroke (65-80% of stroke patients have OSA).
- 15% of OSA patients have diabetes compared to only 3% in the general population.
- OSA is more prevalent than diabetes and asthma in our population.
Treatment of Sleep Apnea
A formal diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can only be made by a sleep physician. The doctors at Sedation and Implant Dentistry Irvine are highly trained in the indicators of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Our state-of-the-art 3D iCAT imaging scanner take images and precise measurements of your pharyngeal airways to determine the presence and severity of obstruction. If the appearance of OSA is present, our doctors can provide you with a referral to sleep physician.
The physician will need to do a thorough evaluation and may recommend a sleep study. Sleep studies are tests that measure how well you sleep and how your body responds to sleep problems. Vital to determining the type and severity of sleep disorder, a sleep study is either conducted with a home sleep testing device or in a sleep lab. Sleep studies are especially important because untreated sleep disorders can raise your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and other medical conditions.
Sleep Apnea Appliance
This treatment consist of an oral appliance which is a small device similar to an orthodontic retainer. It is worn in the mouth while sleeping to prevent soft throat tissue from collapsing and obstructing the airway. Some of the devices hold the lower jaw forward during sleep while other appliances directly affect tongue position.
Tips To Getting A Good Night’s Rest
- Losing weight
- Avoiding central nervous system depressants
- Quit smoking
- Avoid sleeping on your back
- Avoiding alcohol 2 hours prior to bedtime
- Elevate the head of the bed
- Using anti-snore pillows
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