What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that needs to be treated. A board certified sleep physician can help you select a treatment plan that is right for you.
In general definition, it’s more than 5 episodes, when the breathing stops for longer than 10 seconds, with oxygen levels, drastically dropping in the body, below 95% each and every night. Some severe apneic, can stop breathing for longer than 2 minutes per episode. Imagine that! That’s more than people can hold their breath under water.
There are several signs that sleep apnea might be present, such as severe erosion of teeth, scalloped tongue, abrasions and teeth wear, as well as large tonsils and a small throat opening.
Patients who are intolerant of CPAP machines, can benefit from oral appliances. The appliances will open up the airway and advance your lower jaw, in a supine position, which will prevent the tongue from falling into and blocking the throat and impede breathing.
Because of all the cardiovascular damage that’s occurred, in lieu of sleep apnea, people with OSA are at great risk for heart attacks and strokes. OSA increases this risk, more than any other single factor – including smoking, obesity etc. (5x increase)
Your plan may include any combination of these treatments:
I would like to share with you a story that proves a point of how little we know, about sleep apnea and how common this dangerous condition is among us.
I had a long standing patient, who would come for regular treatment as needed and fall asleep in the chair, each visit. Not only would the patient fall asleep, but also would manage to replicate, a full blown orchestra while sleeping, with a deep guttural snore. I used to take this as a compliment. Periodically, I would hear patients in adjacent rooms giggling…
This continued for a while, until one day the patient started complaining, that their heart was beating, a hundred miles an hour all day and night. The patient also mentioned, that their blood pressure spiked and nobody was able to determine the course of this ailment. A Cardiologist, would prescribe medication to slow the heart, a general physician would prescribe blood pressure medication, and a psychiatrist would prescribe medication, to improve the patient’s sleep patterns.
Nothing seemed to help for months, as the reason for the illness was still obscure. Finally, a decision was made, to test patient for sleep apnea. Test results were horrendous, as a reading of 87, proved, the patient was a severe apneic. A CPAP machine was promptly fitted and within weeks and the sleep pattern was immediately corrected. Also, the patient’s blood pressure stopped spiking and heart rate stabilized at a decent level. There was very noticeable change, in patient’s world. The quality of life drastically improved and the patient was infused with new found energy.