What is Sleep Apnea Treatment?

Snoring affects millions of adults, but it can be more than just a nuisance for a sleeping partner. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that occurs while you sleep. People who suffer from this common disease can see their regular breathing patterns stop for 10-seconds or more dozens, or even hundreds of times each night.

Aside from some potentially dangerous side effects, those with sleep apnea don't get a good night's sleep due to the interruption in breathing and can lack the energy to complete their everyday activities. Lack of sleep is damaging to your health and can affect your productivity at work or school, make you irritable, and cause depression.

Forms Of Sleep Apnea

There are two forms of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused by a blockage of the airways usually when the back of the throat collapses while sleeping. It happens more in men than women, and it is the most common type of sleep apnea.
  • Central Sleep Apnea, in this case, there is no blockage of the airways. However, there is an interruption of communication between the brain and the breathing muscles.

Who Is At Risk For Sleep Apnea?

Since this condition happens during sleep, it's hard to diagnose, especially when you sleep alone. If you have a sleeping partner, they will notice that you snore and your breathing is interrupted.

Sleep apnea can affect people of every age, including young children, but if you fall under any of these categories, you could be at a higher risk of it.

  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Male over the age of 40
  • Obesity
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Enlarged tongue
  • Small jaw bones
  • GERD or gastroesophageal reflux
  • Large neck size (over 17-inches for men, and 16-inches for women)
  • Allergies
  • Frequent sinus infections

Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

Some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea are:

  • Sore or dry throat
  • Waking from a choking sensation
  • Snoring
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of concentration
  • Sleepiness during waking hours
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Memory problems

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

If you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, we can run a test to diagnose the disease. This test consists of hooking you up to equipment that will monitor your breathing pattern during sleep, and it can be done at home or a sleep center. In some cases, other tests such as an electroencephalogram (EEG), electrocardiogram (ECG), electromyogram (EMG), or electro-oculogram (EOG) may be needed to obtain more information about your case. Once we analyze the data from the testing, we can determine what the treatment will be.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

It is possible to treat mild cases of sleep apnea with relatively simple behavioral changes such as avoiding alcohol, changing sleeping positions (sleeping on your back encourages snoring), avoiding cigarettes, or losing weight.

However, for more severe cases of OSA, there are other treatment options including:

  • CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure - this is the most common treatment, and it consists of wearing a mask over your nose and mouth for sleeping. A machine hooked to the mask will provide a continuous airflow into your nose to help your airways open and encourage normal breathing during sleep.
  • Dental Devices - we can build a custom-made dental device to help your airways stay open at night.
  • Surgery - in some cases such as people with enlarged tonsils, those with a deviated nasal septum, and people with a narrow throat may need surgery to fix their sleep apnea.

If you are around Mercer Island and think you suffer from sleep apnea and want more information about treatment options, contact us and our team can help you here at Mercer Island Dental. Please call us at (206) 232-3600 today!

Want to schedule an appointment?