Do You Have Sleep Apnea?
Do you feel exceptionally groggy and irritable throughout the day? While many patients think it’s normal, it can actually be a sign of a more serious health condition called sleep apnea. The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It occurs when your airway becomes obstructed, causing pauses in your breathing throughout the night.
When your breathing repeatedly stops and starts while you sleep, it places undue stress on your organs and can lead to more serious health consequences. Unfortunately, sleep apnea tends to go undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed as ADHD, leaving many patients to suffer from the consequences.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Since sleep apnea is largely undiagnosed, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms so you can take the first step in getting the treatment you need. Symptoms for sleep apnea include:
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Gasping or choking upon wakening
- Loud snoring
- Difficulty concentrating
- Observed episodes of pauses in breathing during sleep
While sleep apnea has been primarily associated with snoring, it might surprise you that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone with the condition snores. While it’s a common symptom, anyone can have sleep apnea.
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is more common than you might think. 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea and approximately 80% of moderate to severe cases are undiagnosed. The disorder can be present at any age and to any body type. That being said, risk factors for sleep apnea include:
- Circumference of the neck — thick necks may have narrower airways
- Family history
- Alcohol use
- Nasal congestion
It’s important to note that sleep apnea can be exacerbated by these common factors:
- Age — older patients are at a higher risk for sleep apnea
- Gender — males are at a higher risk for sleep apnea
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea affects nearly every aspect of your life. When you’re not getting the sleep you need, your quality of life tends to diminish, affecting your health, relationships, and career. We want you to know that we’re here to help. Depending on your unique case, Dr. Lawrence may recommend the following treatment options:
Oral Appliance Therapy
An oral appliance is the preferred method for treating sleep apnea. The device resembles a retainer, is noiseless, and comfortable. It works by gently shifting your jaw forward thereby keeping your tongue in a neutral position and preventing your airway from being obstructed.
Laser therapy can reduce the effects of sleep apnea by tightening the soft tissue in the back of your throat. This enables the airway to remain open throughout the night, thereby preventing airway obstruction.
Like all of our sleep apnea solutions, Nightlase therapy is customized to meet your needs. Dr. Lawrence can adjust the length of the laser’s pulse emitted by the machine. It’s a gentle and effective way to treat sleep apnea.
CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It works by delivering air through a tube and mask to prevent the airway from collapsing. While the CPAP machine is an effective way to treat severe sleep apnea, many patients have difficulty adapting to the device. Patients complain that’s it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient. In fact, approximately 30 percent of patients fail to start their treatment or refill their prescriptions.
Many patients come to our office searching for an alternative to the CPAP machine. While it’s still recommended for patients with severe sleep apnea, Dr. Lawrence may suggest a combination treatment approach. With a combination treatment, you’ll have added comfort by placing the machine at a lower setting and reducing the size of your mask.
In the most severe sleep apnea cases, surgery is recommended which can include the removal of the patient’s tonsils, adenoids, or excess tissue that obstructs the airway. However, due to the invasive nature of the surgery, it’s only used as a last resort after conservative options have been proven to be unsuccessful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is sleep apnea life-threatening?
Untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious health consequences, such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. That’s why it’s crucial to seek treatment immediately after getting diagnosed with sleep apnea. Our dentists offer several effective treatments to tackle your sleep apnea and help you sleep soundly at night.
To learn about our treatment options, contact our McKinney office at (972) 542-9129 or fill out the contact form. Dr. Lawrence will answer any questions or concerns you may have and help you choose the best solution for your unique condition.
What are the side effects of using a CPAP machine?
In addition to being a noisy inconvenience to you and your sleeping partner, there are various side effects that make it difficult to continue treatment with a CPAP machine. Side effects may include:
- Mask leak
- Dry, stuffy nose, or nosebleeds
- Skin irritations
- Dry mouth
You’ll also have to regularly clean the mask and ensure you have a secure fit so the device works effectively. We find that the CPAP machine doesn’t fit into the lifestyle of many of our patients and that they prefer something more portable and easier to maintain like a customized oral appliance.
What is the relationship between sleep apnea and obesity?
About 70% of patients with obstructive sleep apnea are also obese. In adults, there is a strong
correlation between excess weight and obstructive sleep apnea. For every increase in BMI, there is a 14% increased risk of developing sleep apnea. With an increase in weight, there’s an increase in OSA severity.
If you’re suffering from sleep apnea symptoms, schedule a consultation at our office by calling (972) 542-9129. During your consultation, one of our dentists will review your symptoms, examine your mouth and throat, and determine if you’ll benefit from a sleep study. Once diagnosed, we can begin treatment right away.
How can I naturally treat sleep apnea?
There are several lifestyle modifications that can improve your sleep apnea symptoms. However, we recommend them in conjunction with trusted methods. Natural sleep apnea remedies include:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Regular exercise
- Avoid alcohol, smoking, and sedatives
- Positional therapy
We understand that no two patients are the same. If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea, we’ll create a customized treatment plan including the use of an oral appliance and suggest lifestyle modifications that will benefit you the most so we can optimize your results.
Your Sleep Apnea Solution
If left untreated, sleep apnea can have lasting effects on your health, relationships, and career. If you have sleep apnea, contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lawrence by calling (972) 542-9129. An oral appliance will help you achieve a quality night of rest so can enjoy your fullest potential.