Sleep Apnea

Sleep Well. Live Well.

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night. 90% of people who have sleep apnea go undiagnosed. If you are a chronic snorer, you should be evaluated to determine the source of your problem and your treatment options.

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What is Sleep Apnea?

There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the more common of the two. It is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses during sleep. In central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center. It is estimated that more than 20 million Americans suffer from OSA, but as many as 80-90% go undiagnosed and untreated. Sleep apnea is considered to be a disease, and if left untreated, it can create serious health problems.

How do I know if I suffer from Sleep Apnea?

Sometimes, an apnea suffer will be fully roused from sleep to gasp for air. But in most cases, they don’t fully wake after each pause in the breath and are often unaware of the stop-start breathing pattern that punctuates their sleep. This pattern not only interferes with deep, restful sleep, it also places significant stresses on the body, due to both the lower blood oxygen levels and the ongoing release of stress hormones with each partial waking.

A sleep lab polysomnogram, also known as a sleep study, measures 12-14 different types of data. Included in it are the different stages of sleep, the number, times, and length that someone stops breathing. In addition, it can tell you your sleep patterns, body position, changes in oxygen levels, and how it affects your breathing. Sleep studies are usually conducted at a hospital or sleep lab, but home testing options are becoming more popular. A home sleep study involves the use of a portable monitoring system that is made available to the patient, who can then conduct the overnight evaluation in their own bed. Although not as effective as a sleep lab full polysomnogram – it is a useful tool in screening and diagnosis of OSA.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

One of the most common treatments suggested for obstructive sleep apnea is a type of ventilation device known as a constant positive airway pressure machine or CPAP. However, many users find the mask and air supply tube to be restrictive, uncomfortable, or claustrophobic and may decline treatment or discontinue treatment after an initial trial period. Records show that long-term compliance with CPAP therapy is as low as 50 percent.

Sometimes lifestyle changes such as weight loss, changes in sleep position and the cessation of smoking may be enough to reduce or relieve mild cases of sleep apnea. More often, however, additional treatment may be required. Other solutions include oral appliances, surgery, and positional therapy.

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Sleep, like physical activity and proper nutrition, is a vital component of one’s overall health and well-being. Our team is committed not only to providing our patients with a healthy, glowing smile, but also to enhancing their quality of sleep, and in turn their quality of life.

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