Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur more than thirty times an hour. This condition prevents many people from getting enough oxygen to their heart, brain, and other vital organs during rest. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) causes blood oxygen levels to fall and forces the heart to work harder and the blood pressure to rise. Daytime sleepiness and impaired alertness, including fatigue, a slower reaction time and vision problems are common conditions associated with sleep apnea. Symptoms may be present for years without identification, during which time the sufferer may become conditioned to the significant levels of sleep disruption. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep. A recent study estimates that one in every fifteen Americans is affected by at least a moderate degree of sleep apnea. If left untreated, this serious sleep disorder can result in a number of health problems Including high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, diabetes and depression.
There are two types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – This is the most common form of apnea and is caused by a blockage of the airway, occurring when the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses during sleep. Symptoms include loud snoring, restless sleep, and fatigue during the daytime.
- Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) – Unlike OSA the airway is not obstructed, but interrupted by a lack of respiratory effort. The brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to an imbalance in the respiratory control center
The diagnosis of sleep apnea is based on the evaluation of both clinical symptoms and the result of a formal sleep study. This study aims at establishing a diagnosis indicator linked to the number of apneic events occurring per hour of sleep. We use the results of the sleep study in combination with your personal symptoms to form our diagnosis. Common indicators include:
- Chronic tiredness
- Poor work performance
- Memory problems
- Frequent urination during the night
CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure is a treatment that uses positive air pressure to keep the airways open during sleep. Although CPAP is often prescribed for individuals with severe sleep apnea, it has a very low compliance rate. Whether it is the comfort of the system, the noise, or being connected to tubing, it is very difficult for many patients to get accustomed to wearing this device. Fortunately, there are alternative treatment options.
Dr. Matt is treating his patients with a mandibular advancement device called Micro-o2 mouthpiece that holds the jaw and tongue forward. This FDA approved, fitted oral appliance is worn over the teeth at night to prevent the jaw from falling back during sleep, keeping the airway open. The American Academy of Dental Sleep medicine reports that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Through our advanced technology and our interdisciplinary approach, we are able to create an effective device with our use of objective and precise data.
If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms associated with sleep apnea, please call Dr. Shane Matt to schedule a consultation. Remember, sleep apnea is a progressive disorder that can cause serious health problems if left untreated.