Sleep Apnea Owego NY
Sleep apnea is a common condition caused by the airway being fully or partially blocked while sleeping. It results in low oxygen levels, disrupted sleep, and other health problems. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the most common forms of apnea and occurs when the tongue is sucked back against the throat. This blocks the upper airway, and airflow stops or is limited. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.
How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Health
Repeated cycles of decreased oxygen and insufficient sleep both have a profound effect on your health and wellbeing. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to various health issues, including serious cardiovascular problems. Individuals with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Apnea also contributes to metabolic syndrome, including high cholesterol and blood pressure. Your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (insulin resistant) increases with sleep apnea, as does your risk of abnormal liver function and fatty liver disease.
Because you repeatedly wake during the night, sleep apnea also prevents truly restorative, deep sleep. During the day, you will likely feel groggy and have trouble concentrating. You may develop depression and be unable to participate in life fully. Many patients with sleep apnea snore loudly, disrupting their partner’s sleep. The result is irritability, brain fog, and added stress.
Patients with sleep apnea should inform their doctor if they plan to have surgery requiring general anesthesia. Lying on your back under the influence of anesthesia increases the potential for breathing problems. Let your surgeon know what treatment you use to treat your sleep apnea.
Signs You May Have Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea has a variety of symptoms that often overlap and are sometimes misdiagnosed as related to other conditions. However, if you experience one or more of the following symptoms, be sure to see your doctor to see if sleep apnea is a possibility:
- Loud snoring, especially if it keeps others awake
- Your partner says you temporarily stop breathing during the night
- Gasping for air when asleep
- Headaches on awakening
- Reduced libido
- Falling asleep or nodding off throughout the day
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
- Irritability or brain fog during the day
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Difficulty concentrating
Any of these symptoms could indicate sleep apnea or some other medical condition. Please see your doctor as soon as possible for a diagnosis and treatment before your sleep apnea leads to serious health issues.
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Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
Finding the proper treatment for sleep apnea is often “trial and error.” Diagnosed patients may work with a sleep specialist, dentist, and physician to determine which treatment plan is most effective. Some treatments are more effective than others, and the results will vary from one patient to another.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Your dentist can design and manufacture a custom oral appliance for sleep apnea. Wearing the device at night is a more comfortable alternative that is less restrictive and cumbersome than a CPAP device. The oral appliance is designed to realign the position of the lower jaw, preventing soft tissue and the tongue from blocking your airway. These are popular with patients with sleep apnea because they are easy to use at night, portable, and do not interfere with sleep the way a CPAP mask might.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines use gentle air pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep. It is one of the most popular treatment options and works for even the most severe forms of OSA.
Unfortunately, a CPAP device is uncomfortable to wear and can be noisy. Many patients are not comfortable wearing them or find they cannot use them all night without waking.
Surgery is typically reserved for sleep apnea that has not responded to other forms of therapy, including oral appliances and CPAP. There are a few different surgical options, including uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP), which changes the size and shape of the soft palate and back of the throat. Laser-assisted uvulo-palato-plasty (LAUPP) is a version of the surgery that uses less invasive surgical techniques.
In more complex cases, the upper and lower jaw bones may be repositioned to increase the airway size (orthognathic surgery). This procedure is done in the hospital under general anesthesia. It requires a one to two-day overnight stay in the hospital.
Sleep Apnea Frequently Asked Questions
What causes sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is the result of the airflow into your lungs when you sleep. The tongue or uvula may block the airway, or the airway may be blocked by relaxed soft tissues. It is more common in patients who are obese or have heart disease. Other risk factors include allergies, deviated septum, smoking, and asthma.
Can sleep apnea be cured?
No, there is no cure for sleep apnea. There are ways to treat it, minimizing or reducing the symptoms. However, you do not cure sleep apnea; you must address the symptoms to reduce their impact.
How do dentists help with sleep apnea?
Oral appliances for sleep apnea must be precision crafted to fit the patient’s oral cavity, teeth, and gums. While sleep specialists can diagnose sleep apnea, they do not have the expertise to design a custom oral appliance. Your dentist can do a physical exam, take 3D images, and use these to guide them in making an oral appliance unique to the patient and the specific cause of their sleep apnea.
Is sleep apnea common?
Yes, in the United States alone, it is estimated that over 22 million individuals suffer from sleep apnea. Many of these people go undiagnosed for years, leading to serious health problems.
How Long do Oral Appliances Last?
Nightly wearing contributes to the deterioration of any sleep apnea oral appliance, particularly if you clench or grind your teeth at night. Most people need their appliances replaced every two to three years.
Most oral appliances for sleep apnea work for about two years, after which you will need to be refitted and a new appliance made. Some last less than two years if patients grind or clench their teeth.
Sleep apnea is a severe condition with life-long, adverse effects on your health and ability to function. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, contact your doctor for an evaluation. You may be referred for a sleep study to determine the severity of the condition. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea and are interested in sleep apnea oral appliance therapy, please schedule an appointment by calling Owego Dental Phone Number 607-687-1424.