Sleep Apnea Diagnosis and Treatment

Millions of Americans suffer from a condition known as sleep apnea. This is a serious condition that affects your quality of sleep. When you have sleep apnea, your breathing is disrupted while you sleep. These cessations in your breathing cause your body to wake up, even though you are unaware it is happening. Every time you wake up and then fall back to sleep, your body has to restart its natural sleep cycles. These cycles are crucial for helping your mind and body to rest and repair. With so many disruptions in your sleep cycles, you wake up feeling exhausted, like you never went to bed in the first place. Untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious complications. The Center for Cosmetic Dentistry is here to help.

Couple in bed smiling after oral appliance therapy helps treat sleep apnea

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are two types of sleep apnea, obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is the most common type. With OSA, your airway becomes blocked while you sleep, which causes your breathing to stop. These blockages may be your tongue, excess tissue at the entrance of your throat, or because the airway collapses during sleep. Central sleep apnea is less common. This type of sleep apnea occurs when there is a miscommunication between your brain and the muscles that control your breathing.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is waking up feeling exhausted day after day. No matter what time you go to bed or how much winding down you do before you go to sleep, you still wake up feeling tired, even if you think you got a full night of sleep. While this is one of the most common symptoms, there are also several others. These symptoms include:

  • Waking up with a sore or dry throat.
  • Chronic headaches upon waking up.
  • Snoring.
  • Extreme daytime sleepiness.
  • Falling asleep during the day, even while doing tasks like driving.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Irritability and trouble controlling emotions.

When sleep apnea goes undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, your overall health can begin to suffer as well. Sleep apnea can lead to issues such as low blood oxygen levels, an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, hypertension, and diabetes.

How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Diagnosing sleep apnea requires what is known as a sleep study. A sleep study is typically done at a sleep clinic. You are attached to computers while you sleep. These computers monitor different things like your breathing, your heart rate, your blood-oxygen levels, muscle movements, and brain activity. The information is recorded and then read by a certified sleep specialist, who can make a diagnosis and recommend treatment.

Sleep studies can also sometimes be done in your own home. You bring a machine home that monitors and records the necessary information while you sleep. After you return the machine, the information is read by sleep specialists. Take home sleep studies can be effective. In some cases, you may still need to undergo a sleep study at a clinic.

Treatment options

There are many different options available for treating sleep apnea. For those who only have minor sleep apnea, weight loss or changes in sleep position can help. A C-PAP machine is one of the most common treatments. This is a machine that delivers a constant flow of air through a small mask worn over your nose. In more severe cases, surgery may be needed.

For those who find a C-PAP machine difficult to use, or who do not want to use this machine, we can provide an oral appliance. This is a custom created device that is designed to be worn over your teeth while you sleep. The oral appliance works to hold your lower jaw forward, keeping the soft tissues in your mouth from falling back into your airway. With your airway open, you can breathe normally throughout the night and wake up feeling rested and refreshed.

The right treatment for sleep apnea will help you to finally get the quality sleep you need and can greatly improve your health and well-being. For more information about sleep apnea, its diagnosis, and treatment options, contact The Center for Cosmetic Dentistry today at 631-982-9669.