7
Feb2017

What is Sleep Apnea And How Can It Be Treated?

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Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when the soft tissues and muscles of the throat relax so much that the airway becomes blocked. It is known as apnea when the airflow is blocked for ten seconds or more; hypopnea describes the partial blocking of the airway by more than 50 per cent for more than ten seconds.

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The night-time symptoms of sleep apnea include:

Loud snoring.
Noisy breathing during sleep, with snorting and gasping after an episode of apnea.
Waking frequently during the night.

Many sufferers of sleep apnea have no recollection of their nightly disturbances, but having such disturbed sleep has a cumulative impact on their general health. There are many other symptoms that can be noticed during the day including:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Loss of libido/erectile dysfunction
  • Mood swings and irritability

Causes of sleep apnea are:

  • Being very overweight, particularly around the neck area.
  • Taking certain sedative medications.
  • Having a medical condition, such as large tonsils or adenoids, a small lower jaw, or a narrow airway.
  • Drinking large amounts of alcohol before going to sleep.
  • Smoking.

There are numerous ways of treating sleep apnea:

Home Treatments
Some can be achieved by yourself at home, such as losing weight, cutting down on alcohol and cigarettes, and using experimenting with alternative therapies rather than sedatives to treat insomnia. Trying to avoid sleeping on your back can be very effective.

Surgery
Surgery can correct any known medical causes, such as large adenoids and tonsils.

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)
CPAP is a facial mask worn during the night. It forces air into the nose and keeps the airways open. It is an effective way of treating sleep apnea, but many sufferers find sleeping with the mask difficult and uncomfortable.

Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral Appliance Therapy works by your dentist prescribing a customized mouthpiece that is worn at night and removed during the day. It works by preventing the soft tissues of the mouth and tongue from collapsing during sleep, so that the airway is kept open, and is a great alternative to other methods of treatment as it is completely painless, easily portable and very comfortable. Oral Appliance Therapy is suitable for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea and can be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment.

If you would like to find out more about oral appliance therapy and how it can treat sleep apnea, Dr. Luis Gomez has years of experience. Call Dr. Gomez at Complete Dental Health, Coral Springs, Florida on 954-228-2963 today to book a consultation.