What is Sleep Apnea?
Waking up from a night’s sleep without getting any sleep—it’s a problem. And that problem could be obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). What is OSA? OSA is a sleep disorder, in which case the upper airway is obstructed by excess tissue, airway muscles collapsing and relaxing during sleep, nasal passages and position of the jaw. The word “apnea” is Greek for “without breath.” OSA is one of three sleep apnea disorders, the others being mixed and central sleep apnea.
How Many People Does Sleep Apnea Affect?
An estimated 18 to 20 million adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with OSA, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Most people go undiagnosed for a long time because they are unaware of the symptoms. In most cases, a loved one will have noticed the symptoms before the patient. Common symptoms of OSA include loud snoring, waking up abruptly and gasping for air. When apnea occurs, it sends impulses to the brain to wake a person up, allowing them to restart normal breathing patterns. If there are 30 apneas during an average night of sleep (7-8 hours), a patient can be diagnosed with sleep apnea disorder.
Will Sleep Apnea Go Away on it’s Own?
This is a disorder that needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. If a patient continues without treatment, he/she raises the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, irregular heartbeat, heart attack and stroke. Also, a person suffering from sleep apnea will have trouble functioning during the day, which could result in accidents and lack of productivity. A sleep study is the only proper way to diagnose OSA.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options- Oral Appliance Therapy
To treat OSA, there are many different appliances that can help lessen an obstruction to the airways. Oral appliances are a primary treatment for mild to moderate OSA. What does an oral appliance do? It repositions the tongue and lower jaw forward, allowing the airways to remain open. Dentists typically use oral appliances as their main treatment option. And most dentists offer custom-made oral appliances.
Other Treatment for Sleep Apnea
The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) remains the standard therapy for OSA. A CPAP uses air pressure to keep the airway open. If a patient can’t tolerate a CPAP, an oral appliance is the recommended treatment.
Obstructive sleep apnea isn’t something to snore at.