What is Sleep Apnea?
One in three Americans suffer from some sort of sleep disorder. Examples of sleep disorders include: insomnia, sleep related breathing disorders (Obstructive Sleep Apnea – OSA), hypersomnias (i.e. narcolepsy, circadian rhythm disorders, parasomnias), sleep walking, sleep terrors, sleep related movement disorders (i.e. sleep jerks, sleep talking). An estimated 87 million people snore and over half have OSA.
OSA is measured by the number of times a person stops breathing or has reduced airway flow in a given hour while asleep. This is called the Apnea-Hyponea Index (AHI). An AHI of less than five occurrences per hour is considered mild sleep apnea. An AHI of six to fifteen times is considered chronic sleep apnea.
What are the Risks of Sleep Apnea?
Below are potential medical conditions associated with OSA:
- Cardiovascular: Increased risk of systemic hypertension, medication resistant hypertension, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease and heart attack.
- Brain: Stroke, brain damage, cognitive dysfunction and headaches.
- Metabolic: Diabetes, glucose intolerance and obesity
- Systemic: GERD, depression, impotence and psychosocial
* Diseases in red have over 85% association with OSA
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
The following list are some common symptoms associated with OSA:
- excessive daytime sleepiness
- poor memory
- clouded intellect
- decreased performance
- accident prone
- increased appetite
- exercise intolerance
Am I a Candidate for Sleep Apnea Treatment?
OSA can be related to enlarged tonsils/adenoids, increased size of the tongue and the relaxation of the musculature in the throat area. There are multiple types of treatment from extensive surgery, CPAP machines or oral appliances as shown above. A sleep study is necessary for the diagnosis of OSA. A trained physician will then determine the best course of treatment. These specialists are usually ENTs, Pulmonologists or Neurologists.
If you cannot tolerate a CPAP machine, you may be a good candidate for a custom mouth appliance that would either complement the CPAP or substitute the CPAP. To determine alternatives for OSA treatment, please consult your physician. With a prescription from your physician, your appliance could be covered by your medical insurance. An advantage of the sleep apnea oral appliance is that it’s very comfortable for most people without having to be attached to a machine. It’s also much more compact and more convenient to use when traveling.