Sleep Apnea/ Snoring
Are you often sleepy or groggy during the day? Do you wake up breathless and gasping for air in the middle of the night? Do you doze off at odd hours? Do you have trouble concentrating at work? Does your partner tell you your snoring is loud and frequent? Does your partner’s snoring inhibit you from a restful night’s sleep?
An affirmative answer to any of these questions could mean you or your partner suffer from sleep apnea.
Snoring can disrupt the snorer and the snorer’s bed partner, but it can also indicate a much more troublesome health problem. Ignoring your partner’s snoring won’t win you any medals, and it might just complicate other health issues. Untreated sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, impotence, sore muscles, diabetes and daytime grogginess.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the throat and tongue relax during sleep and block the patient’s upper airway. A partially blocked airway causes snoring. A fully blocked airway causes a pause in your breathing and forces your body awake. These breathing pauses can last 30 to 90 seconds, and they can occur five to 30 times in an hour.
Sleep apnea patients often wake up during the night to gasp for air. Their sleep is far from restful. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons reports one in five adults suffer from at least mild OSA, but many cases of sleep apnea go unnoticed.
How Sleep Apnea Affects You
Sleep apnea inhibits oxygen flow to the brain, which results in frequent morning or nighttime headaches. The repeated loss of oxygen and gasping for air makes sleep fitful and irregular. Sleep apnea makes sufferers extremely tired during the day, and it also causes problems with memorization and concentration. Lack of sleep lowers your immune response and weakens your body against infections.
Lack of sleep can also affect your mood, and your relationships may suffer as a result. You may notice a change in your performance or a decrease in productivity at work, school or with friends. Loud snoring from sleep apnea can also disrupt your family’s sleep. You and your family can enjoy restful, peaceful sleep when your sleep apnea is managed. Sleep apnea may be detected in children who frequently wet the bed, sleep in strange positions and exhibit hostility or hyperactivity during the day. You and your family don’t need to suffer from the effects of sleep apnea. There is hope to enjoy restful sleep and a normal life.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Patients who have researched sleep apnea probably ran across the CPAP treatment option. The CPAP machine has been the most common option, but it may not be the easiest or most affective. The machine can be uncomfortable to wear during sleep.
Now treatment can be as simple as wearing a comfortable sleep appliance. Dr. Larson has studied sleep apnea extensively, and he treats patients with a dental orthotic to wear at night. He even teaches other dentists how to spot patients with sleep apnea. Our team works closely with other experts, including ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors, pulmonologists, physical therapists, orthodontists and sleep medicine specialists to determine the right course of action for each patient.
The custom sleep appliance will prop open your upper airway to encourage air exchange and oxygenation during sleep. We design our appliances as comfortable as possible to encourage our patients to wear them nightly. The appliances are most effective when worn regularly. Dr. Larson will perform additional neuromuscular tests to ensure patients are comfortable and content with the fit of their oral sleep appliances. Our team has the knowledge and technology to treat sleep apnea and maintain a harmonious bite for the patient. Sleep apnea has also been linked to TMJ disorders and tooth grinding.
The custom sleep appliances are two pieces, which allow patients to drink and speak easily with the device in place. Patients can sleep in any position with the sleep appliance, as opposed to the restricted sleep the CPAP machine causes. Our team can help you overcome OSA with a custom orthotic sleep appliance.
Certain behavior changes may also lessen the severity of sleep apnea. Obesity can increase the changes of sleep apnea, and losing weight may help keep the upper airway open. Patients may also be asked to avoid heavy meals, alcohol and caffeine a few hours before bedtime.
Call today to manage your sleep apnea and live a more energetic, happier life. San Francisco sleep apnea sufferers can contact our office for a comprehensive exam. Our team is ready to help.