You may never have heard of sleep apnea, but you should know about it because you or someone you know may be suffering from it, as an estimated 22 million Americans do. An apnea is an unhealthy pause in breathing when you sleep, which causes your body to try to wake up to get more oxygen, disturbing your sleep. Everyone knows that getting a good night’s sleep is very important. The most common symptom of sleep apnea is loud and frequent snoring.
Other indicators that someone might have this disorder:
- Waking up with a sore throat or the feeling that there is cotton in the mouth (due to mouth-breathing during the night as the body tries to get more oxygen).
- Having a morning migraine.
- Deep tiredness, no matter how much coffee is consumed, even falling asleep in the middle of work.
- Inability to concentrate, remember things, or pay attention (including when driving, which leads to a high risk of traffic accidents).
- Increased anxiety, depression, or irritability that seem unrelated to life\’s changing circumstances.
As if those aren’t alarming enough, sleep apnea has been shown to result in weight gain and increase the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases of all kinds, and even Alzheimer’s.
There are two types of this disorder. The most serious kind, but less frequent, is Central Sleep Apnea (CSA), which involves an incorrect signaling from the brain to the lungs about breathing when you sleep, and for this we will refer you to a respected physician, who will determine whether your case requires medication or surgery.
Far more common is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is the result of either large tonsils or excessive tissue blocking the airway or the tongue falling back and blocking the throat while you are sleeping on your back. The standard medical treatment for this is that the patient has to put on a mask which is connected to an oxygen canister, called the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) system. The individual has to lie on her or his back all night, which is uncomfortable, and studies show that many patients do not use it properly.
Many cases of OSA can be easily and effectively controlled by having Wilshire Smile Studio create a personalized oral appliance, which you wear while you sleep, which will keep the airway open.