You may think that snoring is nothing more than a nuisance, but it can be the sign of a dangerous, potentially deadly condition: obstructive sleep apnea. Because this condition has been shown to increase your risk of heart attack and/or death from cardiovascular disease by as much as 30 %, it is important to diagnose and treat it today.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops at night. During these moments, described as apneic events, your blood oxygen level drops. When your blood oxygen level drops sufficiently, your brain wakes up enough to resume breathing. The clinical definition of this condition means you suffer at least ten of these episodes an hour, meaning that you wake up at least eighty times over the course of an eight-hour sleep period. These waking moments prevent you from reaching the deeper stages of sleep, which are essential to good health.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Snoring is a very common sign of obstructive sleep apnea because as the airway constricts it leads to turbulent airflow and vibration of the soft tissues, which we hear as snoring. About 30% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea, and about 70% of people with obstructive sleep apnea are snorers. Especially indicative of sleep apnea is snoring that ends with gasping or choking.
Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Waking at night or in the morning with a headache or feeling unrested
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Depression, irritability, mood swings
- Medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes
The only way to be sure if you suffer from sleep apnea and the degree of your apnea is to do a sleep study to determine what you are doing while you are sleeping. At Dr. Beebe’s office we offer a take-home sleep study, the MediByte Jr. This is an easy way to discover if sleep apnea is an issue. Once the sleep study has been done, a report is generated that will rate the severity (if any) of sleep apnea. This information is shared with your physician and an appropriate treatment is discussed.
An oral dental appliance is a very successful way to treat sleep apnea and snoring. Our LVI trained neuromuscular dentist, Dr. Robert Beebe, can fit you with an oral appliance to properly position your jaw (and sometimes tongue) during sleep that can keep your airway open without the need for restrictive and potentially uncomfortable equipment during sleep. Even for people who do not have sleep apnea, oral appliance therapy effectively treats snoring, leading to a better night’s rest for you and your partner.