It is believed that approximately 30 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, also
known as OSA. It is the most common type of sleep apnea experienced by both men and women.
Approximately one fourth of male adults between the ages of 30 and 60 suffer from sleep apnea,
with approximately 9 percent women. This disorder is more common than asthma and adult diabetes,
and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Other conditions related to obstructive sleep apnea
include hypertension, heart failure, and stroke.
The word apnea means “without breath.” Sleep apnea causes a patient to stop breathing while they are asleep. This happens for more than 10 seconds at a time. It can happen hundreds of times each night. This constant awakening prevents an individual from reaching the deep, restorative levels of sleep that re-energizes and recharges an individual for the day.
It is unknown exactly what causes sleep apnea. The condition results when a patient falls asleep and the muscles of the mouth relax to the point where they collapse the airway. This blockage causes the patient to stop breathing, which results in waking up to open the airway. The individual falls back asleep, and the pattern is repeated until he or she awakens for the day.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Pauses in the breath
- Gasping for air
- Daytime sleepiness
- Thrashing movements in bed
- Morning headache
- Dry mouth upon awakening
- Memory and concentration problems
- Anxiety and depression
This condition may also cause medical complications including a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, depression, and sexual dysfunction. It can increase one’s risk for workplace injuries and motor vehicle accidents.
For proper diagnosis of sleep apnea, patients undergo a sleep study. This is done at a sleep study lab overnight. The patient rests while in the care of a medical professional, and the sleeping behaviors are digitally analyzed. This allows proper diagnosis and an open discussion of therapies to address the condition.
Many physicians recommend a CPAP machine. CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure, helps keep the airway open at night by increasing the air pressure to the throat to avoid collapsing. Others with more severe instances may benefit from surgery. However, the majority of individuals with sleep apnea can use a mandibular advancement dental device. This oral appliance repositions the jaw forward, thus moving the tongue forward and creating a larger airway for breathing.
If you live in the Springfield area and you have been recently diagnosed with sleep apnea, call Vanguard Dental to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kanorwalla. She also serves families in Hampden, Wilbraham, Ludlow, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Sixteen Acres, and Indian Orchard.
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