Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Feb 22nd, 2012 | By | Category: Dental News, Sleep Apnea

sleep apnea fresnoWhat is obstructive sleep apnea?

Do your loved ones complain about your snoring? Is your spouse worried that you occasionally stop breathing during sleep? Do you wake up every morning feeling as if you never slept at all? If so, you may be suffering from sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that can lead to many health problems if left untreated. There are two types of sleep apnea: central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea. Today we will discuss the most common type, obstructive sleep apnea, also known as OSA.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which the throat collapses or becomes obstructed during sleep, causing a temporary pause in breathing. The muscles in the body become relaxed during sleep, including the muscles in the throat. When obstructive sleep apnea is present, these muscles are more relaxed than normal, causing the airway to narrow and temporarily stopping breathing for a few seconds. This cessation of breathing can happen hundreds of times every night. Snoring is often a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, although not everyone who snores has this condition.

Who develops obstructive sleep apnea?

Anyone, even children, can develop sleep apnea, but you are more at risk if you are over 40, male, or overweight. Other risk factors include a large neck, large tongue, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, a receding chin, or a deviated septum. Smokers are also more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea than nonsmokers.

What are the risks of obstructive sleep apnea?

Even though the interrupted breathing of sleep apnea may not always wake you up, it will still interfere with your normal sleep cycles. If you do not get enough deep, restful sleep, it will affect your ability to function normally during the day. Excessive sleepiness, slow reaction times, and a lack of mental alertness can cause problems at work and put you at risk for serious accidents. A lack of proper sleep also puts a strain on the heart, causing heart disease or worsening existing heart conditions. Also, the pauses in breathing caused by OSA will deprive the heart of oxygen temporarily.

What are the treatments for obstructive sleep apnea?

A CPAP machine is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. It works by placing a mask over the face at night. This mask applies a gentle pressure of air into the lungs, keeping the airway from collapsing. It is an effective treatment, but many people find it uncomfortable. Dr. Denes offers a more comfortable treatment called an oral appliance. It resembles a mouthguard and helps keep your jaw in a position that maintains an open airway. Patients generally tolerate these appliances very well.

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, call Drs. Alex and Claudia Denes at (559) 297-1800 to schedule an appointment. Fresno Dental Studio serves patients in Fresno, Clovis, Sanger, Mendota, Orange Cove, Reedley, Selma, and the surrounding areas.

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3 Comments to “Obstructive Sleep Apnea”

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