Sleep apnea affects more than 12 million Americans, causing problems ranging from minor snoring and daytime drowsiness to more severe issues such as high blood pressure or oxygen deprivation.1
Everyone snores to some degree, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you suffer from sleep apnea. Here are some common symptoms of sleep apnea and how to receive an accurate diagnosis.
What Exactly Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is categorized as a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during the sleep cycle, resulting in snoring or loss of breath. This generally occurs several times throughout the sleep cycle.
Sleep apnea is dangerous as it stops the flow of oxygen to the brain during sleep, a crucial time when the body is repairing and revitalizing itself for the next day.
Two types of sleep apnea exist:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
– The most common form of sleep apnea, OSA is caused by a blockage of the airway during sleep while lying down, when soft tissue in the back of the throat compresses due to gravity.
Central Sleep Apnea
– People who have this form of sleep apnea don’t experience obstructed airways during sleep, but the brain fails to send signals to lung muscles to breathe due to instability and mixed signals in your brain’s respiratory control center.
If left untreated, several health problems can develop, including:
- High Blood Pressure
- ADHD Complications
- Heart Failure
Common causes of sleep apnea are obesity or being overweight, having large tonsils, a deviated septum, allergies or gastro esophageal reflux. Men over the age of 40 commonly develop sleep apnea but it can also develop at earlier ages in both men and women.
Most people who suspect they have sleep apnea commonly go to their PCP or an ENT for an official diagnosis, however, orthodontists are qualified to examine and diagnose sleep apnea in patients as well.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
Currently there are 3 ways to treat sleep apnea.
– Continuous Positive Air Pressure is a mask with a continuous flow of pressurized air to keep the airway open while sleeping. Although this method is very effective and most often prescribed, only 20-40% of patients can tolerate it due to the facemask and air pressure.
– Various surgeries involving removal of excess tissue, tonsils and occasionally part or all of the soft palate are also used to open the airway. The results are somewhat variable with these surgeries, it can be an uncomfortable recovery and relapse of the surgery is very likely within 5-7 years post treatment.
Oral Appliance Therapy
– This treatment involves the use of a custom FDA approved mouthpiece that is made by a specially trained dentist. It is most effective in mild to moderate apnea cases and is used in cases where CPAP cannot be tolerated. This is the least invasive treatment and the one most accepted by patients as there is no mask, no pressurized air, is very comfortable and it travels so much better than the CPAP machines.
Get Examined for Sleep Apnea with Timothy Kitzmiller, DDS
If you’re concerned you may have sleep apnea there’s no better doctor to turn to than Dr. Timothy Kitzmiller, DDS. Dr. Kitzmiller, a sleep apnea sufferer himself, and his team are committed to treating patients with snoring and obstructive sleep apnea so they can enjoy a better night’s rest and quality of life.
Dr. Kitzmiller and his caring, well-educated team have been uniquely trained in the field of dental sleep medicine and in the use of oral appliance therapy to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in patients near Cincinnati and Loveland, Ohio.
Contact Dr. Kitzmiller’s office today at 513-248-8848 to receive a complimentary sleep apnea assessment and treatment plan should you be diagnosed with sleep apnea. Your health will thank you for it!