There are many sleep disorders that can make it impossible for one to get enough refreshing sleep. Lots of people never get the opportunity to wake-up in the morning feeling great. One of the most dangerous sleep problems is called Sleep Apnea.
Statistics show that over 20 million adults in the United States are affected with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) making it as prevalent as diabetes and asthma. Individuals affected with this life-threatening condition stop breathing while sleeping. These episodes of apnea can occur up to hundreds of times in one night. The scariest and most dangerous part of it all is that the majority of those sufferers do not even know they have it. And sleep apnea is a very real danger if not treated. As the body senses the need to breathe, the person is unknowingly pulled out from a deer, refreshing sleeping, resulting in many awakenings through the night. These repeated episodes cause the many daytime symptoms that sleep apnea sufferers experience.
For a lot of people, a big challenge is knowing if you have sleep apnea or not. A second challenge is finding out the best way to treat it so that you can end the frustration and start living a refreshing, joy-filled life again.First, here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of OSA:
- Loud snoring
- Choking, gasping, or gagging during sleep to get air into the lungs
- Feeling un-refreshed in the morning after a night's sleep
- Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and Lethargy
- Headaches upon awakening
- Rapid weight gain, GERD (Gastric Reflux)
- Memory loss, learning difficulties, and short attention span
Because of the lack of oxygen to the body during these times, there are major health problems that occur as a result of undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea. These include:
- Increased risk of heart attacks
- Stroke, and other brain problems
- Major challenges with diabetes
- ED and Impotence
- Changes in behavior
Ignoring this condition can shorten your life even more than if you are a heavy smoker – over 10 years!
Sleep apnea occurs in several forms – central apnea, obstructive apnea, and mixed apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, occurs when the tongue falls back and blocks the airway. The best way to make the right diagnosis is by having a detailed lab sleep study done. In this study, detailed measurements of breathing, brain sleep cycles, blood oxygen, heart rate, snoring, and other sleep aspects are taken. Based on this, a sleep medicine physician can determine what sleep problems are occurring.
The most common prescribed treatment to date involves a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device where a patient during sleep wears a mask connected through hoses to an air compressor machine. Although very effective, statistics show that less than 35% of patients are compliant with this type of treatment long-term. People have problems associated with masks, hoses, noise, and the confinement of CPAP therapy.
In years past, many people had surgery on the soft palate in an attempt to reduce airway blockage. These surgeries are no longer popular due to lack of long-term effectiveness.
There is now an alternative treatment available called Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). This option provides treatment to those who are not able to tolerate CPAP, or have mild to moderate sleep apnea. This well-researched therapy involves a fitting of a custom-made FDA-approved nighttime oral appliance to hold the jaw forward and stop the airway from collapsing. This treatment has been proven equally effective as CPAP for many patients, and is endorsed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
If you have symptoms of a possible sleep disorder, particularly sleep apnea, do not wait any longer to have it properly evaluated. It's your life at risk.