If someone told you that you snore in your sleep, you’d probably deny it or shrug it off as an isolated incident. Most couples that I know make light of their partners’ snoring. However, something that people should not joke about is a common and potentially dangerous condition that can be found in those with loud, frequent, and continuous snoring. This condition, which is becoming more prevalent today, is something called sleep apnea. As a matter of fact, my father was recently diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea after what he thought was just a routine appointment with his ENT (who he was sent to because his snoring kept my mom awake at night).
Sleep apnea is a potentially deadly ailment that can often go undiagnosed. Most people who have sleep apnea don’t even realize they have it because it only occurs during sleep. Many times it is a family member who is the first to notice signs of sleep apnea.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep. This causes shallow breathing or breathing pauses. Believe it or not, more than 12-18 million Americans are currently suffering from this condition. Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep. When your breathing pauses or becomes shallow, you’ll often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep. As a result, the quality of your sleep is poor, which makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.
Untreated sleep apnea can:
• Increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
• Increase the risk of, or worsen, heart failure
• Make arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), more likely
• Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents
I have had the privilege of partnering with the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) for their educational campaign called “Keep Calm and Sleep On.” AADSM is an association of dentists that was established in 1991, and has more than 3,000 members of dentists worldwide. It is the only non-profit national professional society dedicated exclusively to the practice of dental sleep medicine. AADSM members offer an alternative therapy for sleep apnea (as opposed to the more cumbersome CPAP). AADSM is the leading national organization for dentists who use oral appliance therapy. The goal of AADSM is to provide advances in the treatment of sleep disorders. With professional education, practice standards, clinical research and collaborative care, AADSM members can help provide alternative solutions to treating sleep-disordered breathing. For example, an oral appliance (or mouth guard-type device), has been proven as successful and effective in the treatment of sleep apnea.
- CPAP is the standard treatment for sleep apnea.
- Because CPAP involves sleeping with a mask that forces air through your nose/mouth, it can be hard for some patients to tolerate.
- Up to 50 percent of sleep apnea patients do not comply with or tolerate CPAP, which ultimately means many people with sleep apnea are opting not to treat this serious disease.
- Oral appliance therapy often can equal CPAP in effectiveness and achieve higher compliance.
Many patients prefer oral appliance therapy devices to CPAP masks because they are comfortable, easy to wear, quiet, portable and easy to care for.
Treatment of sleep apnea requires long-term management. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people. AADSM can help improve the quality of managing your sleep apnea long term.
Points to consider:
1. You should consult a sleep physician if any of the sleep apnea warning signs are present in a household.
2. Readers can visit localsleepdentist.com to learn more about OAT if they – or their spouse – exhibit any sleep apnea indicators.
(2) lucky Mom Confessionals’ readers are getting $25 Bed Bath & Beyond Gift Cards! You must answer, “Do you snore?” You have several additional entry options if you’d like to increase your odds of winning! ALL ENTRIES ARE CONTAINED WITHIN THE WIDGET. Good Luck!