A common sleep disorder that is often overlooked is sleep apnea. Millions of Americans suffer from it, but many people don’t even know they have it. Although relatively harmless in most cases, sleep apnea can lead to serious health risks if left untreated. At New Smiles, we team with medical professionals to diagnose and treat sleep apnea, helping you sleep like a baby once again.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is characterized by sudden, interrupted breathing during sleep. This happens repeatedly as the person sleeps, sometimes occurring hundreds of times in a night. Common sleep apnea symptoms include:
- Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
- Loud snoring
- Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
- Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
- Sleepiness while driving
- Morning headaches
- Restless sleep
- Forgetfulness, mood changes, and decreased interest in sex
- Recurrent awakenings
Types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea. The most common type of sleep apnea. Caused when the tongue, tonsils, or other tissues in the back of the throat block the airway.
- Central sleep apnea. Although the airway is not blocked in this type of apnea, the brain doesn’t always signal the body to breathe when it should.
What happens when sleep apnea is left untreated?
Sleep apnea must not be left untreated, as it can lead to serious cardiovascular effects on the body, diabetes, and even death. As you fall asleep and stop breathing, the oxygen level in your body decreases and carbon dioxide builds up. This high concentration of carbon dioxide is detected by chemoreceptors in the bloodstream. The brain is then signaled to wake you up and to breath. When this happens your heart rate speeds up placing a tremendous load on your heart, increasing your likelihood for heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Even without the cardiovascular problems, sleep apnea affects a person’s performance during the day and can lead to automobile accidents.
What can be done to treat sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea can be treated in several ways. Minor treatments can be as simple as sleeping on your side, rather than your back. For some patients, removing the tonsils can treat sleep apnea. Treatment for those with moderate to severe cases of sleep apnea, can be continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP treatment includes patients wearing a mask hooked up to a machine that delivers a continuous flow of air into the nose. CPAP treatment can be very beneficial. Unfortunately, CPAP use is only 50% effective due to compliance. Another alternative is oral appliance therapy (OAT). At New Smiles, we can manufacture an OAT dental device that keeps your airway open during sleep to treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
Schedule A Consultation
If you are interested in sleep apnea treatment, and would like to see if you are a good candidate, call (503) 925-9595 to schedule a consultation at our office in Sherwood, OR.