Welcome back to the blog! This week we’re going to talk about sleep apnea. Patients have a lot of questions about sleep apnea and why we care about it. We care about sleep apnea because it can have costly effects to overall health if left untreated. Let’s take a deeper look at sleep apnea, why it’s a problem and how it can be treated.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs because the muscles of the tongue and soft palate are too weak to do their job. This results in the tongue and pharyngeal muscle blocking the airway, causing short respiratory arrests. Respiratory arrests mean that breathing can stop hundreds of times during sleep and can prevent the brain and rest of the body from not getting enough oxygen. If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in health issues such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart Failure
- Heart Attack
- Poor performance at work or school
Am I at Risk for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can affect males or females of any age. However, the highest risk population includes:
- Over 40 years old
- History of smoking
Snoring is also another indicator that a patient is at risk for obstructive sleep apnea. Of course just because you snore does not mean that you have sleep apnea. Schedule an appointment so we can do a complete review of your sleep habits and order a sleep test to make the best diagnosis for you.
How is Sleep Apnea Treated?
- CPAP: Traditionally sleep apnea has been treated using a CPAP machine. A CPAP creates changes in pressure which keeps the airway open during sleep and minimizes the risk of respiratory arrests. However, CPAP machines typically are inconvenient and require the use of a facemask during sleep which can be uncomfortable. Some of the most common complaints about CPAP machines includes: frequent awakenings, dry mouth, nasal congestion, claustrophobia, and noise made by the machine itself.
- Oral Sleep Appliance: An oral sleep appliance is placed over the teeth like a sports mouth guard. It pulls the lower jaw forward which pulls the tongue forward and prevents blockage of the airway. The oral sleep appliance is comfortable and custom made to fit your teeth. It allows for normal opening and closing of the mouth and eliminates the factors of the CPAP machine that may cause discomfort. An oral sleep appliance is a great option for patients who have mild to moderate sleep apnea or are CPAP intolerant.
- Surgery: This treatment is often reserved for severe cases of sleep apnea when patients have excessive or malformed tissue that can obstruct airflow through the mouth and nose. Some examples of surgery include: somnoplasty that tightens the soft palate at the back of the throat; UPPP (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) that removes excess soft tissue in the back of the throat and palate; manibular/maxillary advancement surgery where the jaw bone is moved forward to make more room in the back of the throat; and, nasal surgery to correct nasal obstructions such as a deviated septum.
Thank You for Reading Our Blog!
If you have any questions about sleep apnea give our office a call at 317-535-7141 so that we can schedule a consultation with you. Have a great weekend everyone!