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Sleep apnea is a common and serious disorder that disrupts breathing during sleep and goes unrecognized in most cases. Sleep apnea causes repeated breathing starts and stops where the stops last for 10 to 20 seconds. Breathing interruptions can occur numerous times at night, disrupting a patient’s natural sleep rhythm. As a result, patients spend most of their bedtime in light sleep as opposed to the much needed deep, restorative sleep that boosts energy, productivity and mental sharpness. Overweight men and people above 40 years of age are at higher risk of developing sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea risks
Sleep apnea results in chronic sleep deprivation that in turn causes poor concentration, daytime sleepiness, increased risk of causing accidents and slow reflexes during the day. If left untreated sleep apnea causes serious health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke and weight gain. Treatment controls symptoms and restores your sleep patterns.
Types of sleep apnea
There are three types of sleep apnea; obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is most common and occurs when soft throat tissue relaxes and blocks the airway during sleep resulting in loud snores. Central sleep apneaoccurs when muscles that control breathing do not receive signals from the brain. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Anatomy of sleep apnea episode
When airflow suddenly stops during a sleep apnea episode, your blood’s oxygen level drops. Hence, the brain responds by distracting your sleep pattern in order to restore breathing with a choking sound or gasp. People with obstructive sleep apnea do not remember their awakenings while people with central sleep apnea tend to be conscious when awakened.
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea
- - Loud snoring
- Breathing pauses when snoring which might be followed by gasping and choking
- Feeling overly sleepy during the day, while driving and when at work.
- Headaches in the morning
- Poor concentration, memory loss and learning problems
- Feeling depressed, irritable, personality changes and having mood swings
- Having a sore throat and dry mouth in the morning
Oral appliances are the most common sleep apnea treatment option. They are mouth pieces which are designed by dentists and customized to fit patient’s teeth and mouth. They are ideal for stopping snoring and alleviating sleep apnea.
How do the appliance work?
The oral appliances are effective among people with mild to moderate sleep apneabut can be used by patients suffering from severe sleep apnea. They are normally used as the 1st alternative treatment option and possibly eliminate the need for surgery or CPAP. They work by positioning the jaw forward in order to increase the airway’s size and reduce air resistance that causes snoring and sleep apnea.