Sleep Apnea Risks and Treatment

If you find yourself tired during the day, you may suffer from sleep apnea. This is a condition that interrupts an individual’s sleeping pattern numerous times during the night, forcing them to wake up.

Yet this dangerous condition remains hidden to many — they may have no recollection of the multiple arousals that have disrupted their sleep. However, their partner or spouse is often the one who may notice that something is amiss.

That is why it is important to have the condition diagnosed and treated as soon as you have an inkling of it.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Many people snore when the airway becomes partially obstructed by the tongue or esophageal tissues as they sleep, causing vibrations. As the obstruction worsens, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs, resulting in episodes of breaking issues from short of breath to the loss of it altogether. This results in a momentarily roused from sleep.

Commonly, obstructive sleep apnea occurs in 10% of men and 45% of women below 65 and progresses with age to a staggering 70% of men and 50% of women over 65. Can you imagine waking up 20-50 times per hour? It’s no wonder OSA patients suffer from chronic fatigue and daytime sleepiness.

Health Risks Of The Condition

Sleep deprivation can lead to numerous health both physically and mentally. From irritability, drowsiness, and tiredness to illnesses, individuals have a tough time going through their daily life. That’s not to mention the effects it can have on a spouse and the potential subsequent strain on one’s marriage or relationship.

But there are many other medical health risks associated with sleep apnea, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression and more

Since the condition deprives the brain of oxygen, due to the lack of air intake, repeated occurrence of sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, resulting in the possible damage of the carotid arteries on the side of the neck. This can restrict blood flow to the brain and lead to stroke.

A University of California School of Dentistry study showed that 21% of men snoring led to hardened blockages in the carotid arteries. Another study published in 2008 found that individuals that snore loudly had a great odd by 40% to experience hypertension, 34% greater chance of experiencing a heart attack and 67% greater chance of experiencing a stroke as compared to those that did not snore.

Treatment Options For Sleep Apnea

Mild to Moderate Sleep Apnea

Dental appliances are the #1 non-surgical treatment solution recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for patients diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea.

These appliances are custom-designed to stabilize the positioning of oral tissues, prevent airway collapse, and may even increase muscle tone over time. Oral appliances are often very effective, with a 52% – 80% success rate, while also reducing bruxism (teeth-grinding) effects.

Severe Sleep Apnea

A C-PAP or bi-PAP is highly recommended. These are machines that deliver a constant flow of mild air pressure to keep the airway open. Other treatments may include surgery of the nose, palate, and throat, as well as medications. Treatment would be based on an evaluation by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist or sleep medicine specialist.