Many people — and their partners — suffer from snoring and that may be a symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Snoring, daytime sleepiness and fatigue are all commonly reported OSA symptoms.
Sleep apnea occurs when the airway tissues collapse and block the airway, thereby reducing the supply of oxygen to the body and brain during sleep. Long term effects of OSA can include heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, memory and cognitive impairment, diabetes and car accidents. The risk of developing OSA rises with increased body weight, smoking and age.
In patients with OSA, each pause in breathing can last from 10 seconds to several minutes and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Sleep apnea is often diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a “sleep study” which is used to determine disease severity and to decide what type of therapy to use.
Currently, the preferred method for treating sleep apnea is with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP, machine which forces the airway open using pressurized air pumped via a mask into the throat.
While extremely effective, the CPAP machine can also be very uncomfortable leading to poor long term patient compliance. For mild and moderate cases, an oral appliance can be used to reposition the mandible forward, thereby preventing the collapse of the tissues around the airway.
The first step in determining if you have sleep apnea is by getting your doctor to order a sleep study. If you have any questions please ask the friendly staff at Pender Harbour Dental who can help you get the process started towards getting a better night’s sleep.
Note: On CPAP, bed partners get an average of 62 extra minutes of sleep per night!