Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly, or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? If so, you may be one of more than twelve million Americans affected by sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. If you suffer from sleep apnea, each time you’re breathing stops, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Because the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don't remember it - and many think they are getting a good night's sleep. However, the constant wake-sleep-wake-sleep cycle precludes the deep sleep that refreshes the body, and sufferers are frequently drowsy during the day.
The following symptoms can indicate the presence of sleep apnea:
Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem and if left untreated can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. Treatments range widely and depend on the severity of the problem and the type of apnea. Basic treatment can be behavioral - for instance, patients are instructed to lose weight, stop smoking, or sleep on their sides instead of on their backs. Beyond that, oral devices can be used to position the mouth in such a way that prevents throat blockage. In more severe cases, surgery may be the best option.
Give our office a call, and we can refer you to a sleep apnea specialist. The specialist may recommend a "sleep study" to diagnose the precise extent of the problem, and can prescribe appropriate treatment. Depending on your situation, treatment may involve an oral device that we can custom-create for you. These appliances reduce the health risks associated with apnea without surgery or medication. There is a 96% success rate for people treated with these appliances.