Are You Suffering from Sleep Apnea?
Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, can appear in a variety of forms. Whether you face difficulty focusing, excessive daytime sleepiness after a full night of sleep, loud snoring, a dry throat in the morning or any combination of the preceding symptoms, you may be suffering from OSA.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
By definition, according to Mayo Clinic, “Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.” Two main types of sleep apnea can occur in patients, obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, though obstructive sleep apnea is the more common type. OSA occurs when throat muscles relax during sleep, decreasing the size of the space through which oxygen travels down the throat and into the lungs.
How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
Until recently, it was widely believed that patients had to undergo an extensive sleep study, in a study environment, to determine whether or not they were suffering from OSA. However, new technology allows patients to study their sleep at home in the comfort of their own bed. This at-home sleep study technology puts patients in their normal sleeping environment, which may lead to more accurate results versus a night of uncomfortable sleep in an unfamiliar study environment.
At Triad Cosmetic Dentistry in North Carolina, we offer our patients the ability to participate in an at-home sleep study, using the technology we have in our office. We start by asking our patients a few screening questions, and if their score indicates that they could be at risk, we then discuss the process of an at-home sleep study. We have found that many patients are unaware they are at risk of sleep apnea until they work through our screening questions.
While many doctors and patients, alike, associate OSA with older, overweight men, recent studies suggest that young women may be more prone to OSA than originally believed, according to SHAPE magazine. An article from the magazine states, “As many as half of ladies ages 20 to 70 have it to some degree, Swedish researchers found.” Additionally, research from the UCLA School of Nursing suggests that OSA may be more harmful to women than it is to men.
How Do I Treat Sleep Apnea?
There are several solutions for treating sleep apnea. One of the most commonly used treatment options is a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, machine. However, according to Shape, researchers from the journal CHEST report that “just 50 percent of people who get diagnosed and try a CPAP end up using it every night.”
At Triad Cosmetic Dentistry we offer special sleep apnea mouthpieces as an alternative to the CPAP machine. Mouthpieces for sleep apnea keep the patient’s mouth in a particular open position, allowing oxygen to pass through the throat throughout a full night’s worth of sleep.
According to Shape, OSA expert and president of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine Kathleen Bennett, D.D.S., says “mouthpieces are nearly as effective — and since they’re less disruptive, many more sleep apnea sufferers actually use them.”
And, of course, a treatment plan is going to be more effective when compliance is higher. If patients are not using their CPAP as regularly as they should be, it makes sense that efficacy would, in turn, suffer.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Greensboro, NC
Do you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea? Take a look at our sleep apnea risk assessment tool here! If your results indicate that you are at high risk for sleep apnea, contact our office today! We are happy to help set you up with an at-home sleep study to help diagnose your breathing problems. Have questions? Don’t hesitate to call us. We serve patients in Greensboro, High Point and surrounding NC areas. We will answer any questions you may have!