Learn About Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is difficult to diagnose and often goes untreated, if you are experiencing short pauses in breath during sleep or excessive daytime sleepiness, you may be suffering from a sleep breathing disorder. It is very important to get the dental-medical attention you need. Sleep apnea can cause other related medical conditions that you may no be aware of. Such as Heart disease, AFIB, Hypertension, Diabetes, Stroke, Gastric Reflux and more. In our Foothill Ranch office, we review your medical history, complete a thorough dental exam, complete a Sleep Breathing Questionnaire and utilize Sicat Airway Function 3D cone beam technology to assess and recommend the appropriate treatment for your condition.
We take your medical health very seriously! Sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder, affecting roughly 20 million Americans. Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing periodically during sleep. These cessations in breathing can occur anywhere from a few times a night up to hundreds of times a night. When a person stops breathing in their sleep, they are partially awakened from sleep as their brain is forced out of deeper stages of sleep to get the body to begin breathing again. When this occurs several times an hour, quality sleep decreases, and a whole slew of medical problems can begin to arise.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night's sleep, you might have sleep apnea.
The main types of sleep apnea are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax
- Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea
The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making it difficult to determine which type you have. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
- Loud snoring
- Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep — which would be reported by another person
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty paying attention while awake
Sleep apnea can affect anyone, even children. But certain factors increase your risk.
Obstructive sleep apnea
Factors that increase the risk of this form of sleep apnea include:
- Excess weight. Obesity greatly increases the risk of sleep apnea. Fat deposits around your upper airway can obstruct your breathing.
- Neck circumference. People with thicker necks might have narrower airways.
- A narrowed airway. You might have inherited a narrow throat. Tonsils or adenoids also can enlarge and block the airway, particularly in children. Upper Airway Respiratory Syndrome or U.A.R.S.
- Being male. Men are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnea than are women. However, women increase their risk if they're overweight, and their risk also appears to rise after menopause.
- Being older. Sleep apnea occurs significantly more often in older adults.
- Family history. Having family members with sleep apnea might increase your risk.
- Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers. These substances relax the muscles in your throat, which can worsen obstructive sleep apnea.
- Smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are people who've never smoked. Smoking can increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
- Nasal congestion. If you have difficulty breathing through your nose — whether from an anatomical problem or allergies — you're more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea
Risk factors for this form of sleep apnea include:
- Being older. Middle-aged and older people have a higher risk of central sleep apnea.
- Being male. Central sleep apnea is more common in men than it is in women.
- Heart disorders. Having congestive heart failure increases the risk.
- Using narcotic pain medications. Opioid medications, especially long-acting ones such as methadone, increase the risk of central sleep apnea.
- Stroke. Having had a stroke increases your risk of central sleep apnea or treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. Complications can include:
Daytime fatigue. The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible, making severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability likely.
You might have difficulty concentrating and find yourself falling asleep at work, while watching TV or even when driving. People with sleep apnea have an increased risk of motor vehicle and workplace accidents.
You might also feel quick-tempered, moody or depressed. Children and adolescents with sleep apnea might perform poorly in school or have behavior problems.
High blood pressure or heart problems. Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. Having obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of high blood pressure (hypertension).
Obstructive sleep apnea might also increase your risk of recurrent heart attack, stroke and abnormal heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation. If you have heart disease, multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can lead to sudden death from an irregular heartbeat.
- Type 2 diabetes. Having sleep apnea increases your risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
- Metabolic syndrome. This disorder, which includes high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood sugar and an increased waist circumference, is linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
Complications with medications and surgery. Obstructive sleep apnea is also a concern with certain medications and general anesthesia. People with sleep apnea might be more likely to have complications after major surgery because they're prone to breathing problems, especially when sedated and lying on their backs.
Before you have surgery, tell your doctor about your sleep apnea and how it's being treated.
- Liver problems. People with sleep apnea are more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests, and their livers are more likely to show signs of scarring (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).
- Sleep-deprived partners. Loud snoring can keep anyone who sleeps near you from getting good rest. It's not uncommon for a partner to have to go to another room, or even to another floor of the house, to be able to sleep.
Sleep Apnea Treatment in Foothill Ranch
Your doctor may make an evaluation based on your signs and symptoms and a sleep history, which you can provide with help from someone who shares your bed or your household, if possible.
You're likely to be referred to a sleep disorder center. There, a sleep specialist can help you determine your need for further evaluation.
An evaluation often involves overnight monitoring at a sleep center of your breathing and other body functions during sleep. Home sleep testing also might be an option. Tests to detect sleep apnea include:
- Nocturnal polysomnography. During this test, you're hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep.
Home sleep tests. Your doctor might provide you with simplified tests to be used at home to diagnose sleep apnea. These tests usually measure your heart rate, blood oxygen level, airflow and breathing patterns.
If the results are abnormal, your doctor might be able to prescribe a therapy without further testing. Portable monitoring devices don't detect all cases of sleep apnea, however, so your doctor might still recommend polysomnography even if your initial results are normal.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor might refer you to an ear, nose and throat doctor to rule out blockage in your nose or throat. An evaluation by a heart doctor (cardiologist) or a doctor who specializes in the nervous system (neurologist) might be necessary to look for causes of central sleep apnea.
Following an at home sleep test, a board certified medical pulmonologist will review your results and make a diagnosis and treatment recommendation. If CPAP therapy is recommended, you will be referred to a medical doctor. If an oral sleep appliance(MAD) is recommended, Lombardi Brothers Dental will schedule you for treatment.
At our Foothill Ranch office, we provide SomnoMed & Optisleep sleep appliances for the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea cases. Both are custom-made oral appliance to be worn while sleeping. They create continuous airflow by moving the lower jaw forward.
SomnoMed is the leading provider of continuous open airway therapy (COAT). www.Somnomed.com
Optisleep is a totally digital fabricated appliance from Sicat Air. www.OptiSleep.com
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