Snoring is a condition that affects 45% of normal adults and can be a signal that something is seriously wrong with one’s breathing during sleep. Men are generally more likely to snore than pre-menopausal women, however, women who have gone through menopause are just as likely to snore as men. Children generally do not snore unless they have enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
- Poor muscle tone in the throat and the tongue.
- Alcohol and sleeping pills relax the muscles too much, causing snoring
- Blocked nasal passages.
- A long soft palate and uvula narrows the passage from the nose to the throat – They can flutter during relaxed breathing causing snoring
- Deformities in the nose or nasal septum – Deviated septum refers to a malformation in the wall that separates the nostrils.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid sleeping pills and antihistamines before bedtime.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages within 3 hours before bedtime
- Avoid heavy meals within 3 hours before bedtime
- Sleep on the side rather than in supine position. To keep from turning you can sew a pocket with a tennis ball in it on the back of your pajamas.
- If snoring becomes disruptive to the snorer and his/her family, consult a health care professional. The snoring may be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea.
- Approximately 30 million Americans are victims of a sleep disorder called sleep apnea.
- Many millions more are pre-disposed and have a high risk of developing the illness.
- “Apnea” is a Greek word meaning “without breath”
- Those with apnea literally stop breathing in their sleep often hundreds of times during the night.
HOW DOES IT OCCUR?
- During normal sleep, throat muscles relax.
- If the throat is crowded due to obesity, the airway collapses during sleep. Airflow stops and the blood oxygen level drops, which causes the brain to wake up.
- If you have sleep apnea, this cycle may repeat hundreds of times during the night while you have no idea it is happening.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON SYMPTOMS?
- Fatigue and tiredness during the day.
- Loud snoring.
- Waking up with choking or gasping.
- Not feeling rested in the morning or satisfied with a night’s sleep.
- A strong desire to take a daily afternoon nap.
- Unexplained accidents or errors.
- Morning headaches.
OTHER COMMON FEATURES ARE:
- Small jaw, thick neck
- High blood pressure
- Restless sleep; the repeated struggle to breathe can be associated with a great deal of movement.
- Depressed mood and/or irritability
- Reduced sex drive and impotence
- Snorting, gasping, choking during sleep
HOW SERIOUS IS IT?
- Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition.
- Undiagnosed severe sleep apnea can cause irregular heartbeats, unstable high blood pressure, leg swelling, heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrest during sleep, or a harmful accident.
- Increased daytime sleepiness poses a serious risk of automobile accidents, impaired functioning in the workplace and in personal relationships.
- Untreated sleep apnea tends to progressively worsen and can cause partial or complete disability and death.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
- An overnight sleep study, called polysomnography, is usually done to diagnose sleep apnea.
- The sleep study measures your heart rate, brain waves, chest movement, air flow and blood oxygen levels while you sleep.
- Other sleep disorders that cause unrestful sleep may be detected with a sleep study as well.
- The test involves no pain and is covered by insurance.
HOW IS SLEEP APNEA TREATED?
Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A custom-fit oral sleep appliance can improve your sleep, restore your alertness and revitalize your health. Here is a guide to help you get started with this life-changing treatment.
About Oral Appliance Therapy
Worn only during sleep, an oral appliance fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. It supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
If you and your doctor decide that oral appliance therapy is the best treatment option for you, then your doctor will write a prescription for you to receive a custom-made oral appliance. You also will receive a referral to a qualified dentist who can provide oral appliance therapy. More than 100 oral appliances have received FDA clearance. Your dentist will recommend the oral appliance that is best for you. Oral appliance therapy is covered by many medical insurance plans.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment that fits easily into your lifestyle. Patients like oral appliance therapy because it is:
- Easy to wear
- Convenient for travel
- Easy to care for
Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) uses a machine to help a person who has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) breathe more easily during sleep. A CPAP machine increases air pressure in your throat so that your airway doesn’t collapse when you breathe in. When you use CPAP, your bed partner may sleep better too.
You use CPAP at home every night while you sleep. The CPAP machine will have one of the following:
- A mask that covers your nose and mouth.
- A mask that covers your nose only-called nasal continuous positive airway pressure, or NCPAP (this type of mask is most common).
- Prongs that fit into your nose.