Shedding Light on a Serious Sleep Disorder
Loud snoring, chronic fatigue, inability to concentrate and focus throughout the day, and depression are all signs that you may be suffering from a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. This serious condition causes you to stop breathing during sleep, typically due to a blocked airway. Your brain reacts to the lack of oxygen by causing you to wake up, and this can happen many times during the night, even hundreds of times in severe cases.
How Do You Diagnose Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is typically diagnosed with a sleep study prescribed by your general practitioner. Dr. Dilolli works closely with your physician to obtain all the information from your diagnosis, which will help her determine which type of oral appliance is right for your needs. Sometimes oral appliance therapy may be combined with continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) to achieve the best outcome for patients with severe sleep apnea.
If I Snore, Do I Have Sleep Apnea?
While snoring can be an indicator of sleep apnea, not everyone who snores has the disorder. In fact, it’s estimated that half of adults snore from time to time.
The snoring that indicates sleep apnea tends to be very loud and may keep your partner awake at night. Waking with a gasp for air or a cough can also be a sign of sleep apnea.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea often see great results with oral appliance therapy. Dr. Dilolli customizes oral appliances based on each patient’s unique needs and the level of severity of their sleep apnea. The oral appliance is often able to slightly reposition your jaw so your soft tissues don’t block your airway and then you’re able to breathe freely throughout the night.
Health Benefits From Sleep Apnea Therapy
When you don’t get the rest you need each night, it greatly affects your overall health and well-being. Patients who treat sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy begin to see increased energy, less headaches, increased ability to concentrate, and relief from depression.
If you’re not getting the rest you need and deserve each night, or if you’re keeping your partner awake at night with loud snoring, it may be time to learn how Dr. Dilolli can help you.
Contact Virginia Dentistry By Design for more information.
Sleep Apnea FAQs
Did you know that an estimated 1 out of 5 adults has sleep apnea? Unfortunately, many people have this condition but don’t know much about it, which often prevents them from getting the potentially life-saving treatment they need. To help you learn more about sleep apnea, Dr. Dilolli has put together answers to some of the questions she hears most often. But don’t hesitate to contact us if there’s anything else you’d like to know, or if you simply want to schedule a consultation.
1. What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
While each person is different, here are some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Snoring (which is often accompanied by a frustrated spouse or partner)
- Feeling tired, even after getting 8-9 hours of sleep
- Mood changes like anxiety, irritability or depression
- Trouble focusing or paying attention at work or school
- Memory loss
- Waking up each morning with a sore throat or hoarse voice
- Gasping for breath while sleeping
- Waking up repeatedly throughout the night
2. How Does Sleep Apnea Lead To Cardiovascular Problems?
According to the American Heart Association, sleep apnea “prevents restful sleep and is associated with high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure.”
Here’s what accounts for the direct link to high blood pressure: Sleep apnea causes breathing to stop, sometimes up to 30 times each hour. Every time this occurs, you experience brief “oxygen starvation,” which leads to an increase in blood pressure.
Also, sleep apnea is also closely linked to obesity, which indirectly (but significantly) increases the risk of cardiovascular problems. Since the leading cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease, properly diagnosing and treating sleep apnea is crucial.
3. How Is Sleep Apnea Treated and Which Treatment Is Best?
For many years, the only treatments available were surgery or a CPAP machine, which is a mask worn while you sleep that delivers pressurized air to keep your airway open. Fortunately, today we have an additional option that’s effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea: custom-made oral appliances. These lightweight, portable devices are easier to tolerate and work by gently repositioning your lower jaw to open your airway.
Sleep apnea treatment isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution, so while many people can benefit from an oral appliance, we’ll work with a sleep physician to determine the best treatment for you, based on your needs. In more severe cases, some patients do best by combining their CPAP with an oral appliance, which makes their CPAP more comfortable and effective.
4. I Snore. Does That Mean I Have Sleep Apnea?
It’s thought that around 90 million Americans snore, while only about half that number have sleep apnea. While nearly everyone with sleep apnea snores, snoring alone doesn’t automatically mean you have sleep apnea.
It’s also important to distinguish between different types of snoring. The type that’s associated with sleep apnea is usually louder, and people often gasp for air or even exhibit choking sounds.
5. What If I’ve Already Been Diagnosed With Sleep Apnea?
We’re happy to do an exam and create an oral appliance for you, even if you’ve already been diagnosed with sleep apnea. We’ll simply coordinate with your doctor to make sure we’re providing the best treatment for your needs. But rest assured (no pun intended), that with the right sleep apnea treatment, you’ll get relief from your symptoms and go on to have more energy and better health overall.
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