Does your partner complain that your loud snoring keeps them awake? Do you ever wake up feeling groggy and tired?
Both can be a sign of a bigger problem – obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. Sleep apnea can lead to serious health concerns, but a simple device available at our Kingsport dental office is a solution that has helped many patients.
Sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder. As you sleep, your tongue naturally relaxes and falls back against your throat. In some cases, this causes your airway to close up completely. Sleep apnea occurs when the airway gets closed off and you can’t breathe freely.
People with OSA often stop breathing several hundred times through the night. These pauses in breathing can last anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds and are usually followed by a loud snort when breathing starts again. This difficulty breathing means the brain – and the rest of the body – may not get enough oxygen.
Sleep apnea isn’t uncommon – the American Sleep Apnea Association indicates that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Unfortunately, only 20% of moderate to severe cases are diagnosed.
If your partner complains about your excessive snoring, you should alert your primary care doctor. In most cases, they will recommend a sleep study to diagnose and identify the severity of OSA by observing the results that snoring has on your breathing.
In the past, doctors treated severe sleep apnea with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. The CPAP mask provides a constant flow of oxygen, but many people find it bulky and uncomfortable so they don’t wear it, which can be life-threatening.
We want to protect the safety and health of our patients in any way possible. An excellent alternative treatment for patients who can’t tolerate the CPAP mask is an oral appliance prescribed by Dr. Hagan.
The device is designed to move your jaw slightly forward while you sleep, which prevents your tongue from falling back and closing the airway. Many patients who cannot tolerate wearing the CPAP mask or who want to avoid surgery benefit from this treatment.
Sleep apnea is a serious problem that does more than affect your sleep. A chronic lack of sufficient oxygen can result in many health problems, including:
Also, the fatigue that results from sleep apnea can lead to grogginess, reduced performance at work or school, and even motor vehicle accidents.
If you suspect that your snoring might be a sign of sleep apnea, please give us a call. Dr. Hagan will listen to your concerns and work with your primary care doctor to find a safe solution that will help you enjoy a good night’s sleep!