Have you heard complaints from your partner or children or siblings that you snore? Snoring may seem like a small issue, which it is not. It may potentially be an indication of lack of breathing fully, which will translate to the inability to sleep well. Do you feel that you are feeling tired in your daily engagements despite sleeping early? If you answered Yes to these questions, then you may be experiencing symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.
What causes snoring?
When you breathe while you sleep, the uvula and the soft palate can vibrate at the base of your tongue or at the back of your throat, which results in snoring. Your tongue and other muscles in your tongue relax as you sleep causing the air pathway to narrow. Pressure may increase during narrowing, and it results in much harder breathing that turns out to be snoring. Other factors that contribute to snoring include:
- OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea)
- Excess body weight
- Certain kinds of sedatives or sleep aids
Is snoring seriously hazardous to your health?
Since snoring allows very little air to get to the brain, it can lead to hazardous health issues. If you discover that you are regularly snoring, then you may be exhibiting signs of sleep apnea. It is important to know that snoring does not indicate that you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), but OSA is a serious condition.
When you suffer from OSA, the lungs might receive very little air because of the soft tissues that are found at the back of the throat close to the airway. While you sleep, your brain may notice the blockage and trigger you to gasp in some air in order to resume breathing. Research has highlighted that conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, hypertension and heart disease are linked to sleep apnea and snoring.
The commonality of sleep apnea and the risk factors associated with it
The National Sleep Foundation has indicated that sleep apnea affects more than 18 million Americans and the identified risk factors include:
- Recessive chin
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Large overbite or small jaw
- Excess weight
- Large tongue, or smaller upper airway or tonsils
- Over 40 years of age
Sleep apnea can both children and adults of any age. There is still a growing awareness of sleep apnea among the public, with most of the sufferers from sleep apnea remaining untreated and undiagnosed.
Because of the potential consequences of this condition, it is important for knowledge to be shared with the public and evaluation to be taken seriously by sufferers.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
- Gaining weight
- Memory issues
- Inability to concentrate
- Falling asleep in meetings
- Excessive sleeping during the daytime
The screening process of sleep apnea and snoring
An evaluation of the airway can be done in a well-equipped clinic using a cone beam computed tomography (CBCT). 3D images of the airway are created by the device as it screens for sleep apnea and snoring to measure the diameter of the airway. The process of imaging takes a few minutes; it is safe, painless and non-invasive. Problem areas are then identified after the screening is complete and you may be referred to a sleep specialist for further diagnosis and evaluation.
What is oral appliance therapy?
Oral appliance therapy is a treatment method that involves the use of an oral appliance that is customized for sleep apnea and snoring. These devices are built with acrylic material, and they are used to cover the lower and the upper teeth that place the lower jaw open and forward. This is with the intention of helping the muscle tone to improve and move the tongue’s base forward. This generally improves the airway size, allowing the air to go through without lots of resistance. These oral appliances have a success rate of between 85-90% chances of preventing snoring, and it is 70% effective in preventing obstructive sleep apnea, but it also depends on the disorder severity.
What should I do to benefit from having an oral appliance?
A medical diagnosis and evaluation that includes sleep-disordered breathing will be undertaken to determine how to treat the illness. You will go to a primary care physician to begin your evaluation; a dentist is not licensed for this process. During the evaluation, one important requirement is that you will be required to undergo an overnight sleep study, while other physicians will send you to a Pulmonologist who will conduct other evaluations and treatment. More information about treatment and medication for sleep apnea on https://modafprovig.com.
A Pulmonologist is a board certified sleep physician who is highly qualified to treat breathing disorders during sleeping. A Pulmonologist will work with the help of an ENT specialist to determine the right treatment because patients can benefit from the procedures of the nose and throat for OSA treatment.
Treatment options for OSA
- Oral Appliance Therapy which we have discussed
- Positional Therapy: sleeping on the side of the body will improve a person’s snoring or sleep apnea.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): Patients who have severe sleep apnea use this device as the standard of care. A mask is provided to cover the nose and in some cases to the mouth which has an air blower connection. Air pressure is administered through the air blower to prevent the airway from collapsing.
- Surgery of the jaw, throat or tongue. An ENT specialist may carry out a soft tissue procedure to clear the airway in patients who cannot manage to use oral appliances or CPAP. An oral surgeon may perform surgeries to the jaw to advance the lower and upper jaw to clear the way by removing the soft tissue. There are invasive procedures that should be done when non-invasive options have been exhausted.
What are the minor side effects of oral appliance therapy?
- Dry mouth
- Excessive salivation
- Teeth loosening
- Temporary changes of the bite
- Teeth or jaw discomfort
For more information regarding snoring treatments in Hudson Valley, that can be undertaken for your sleeping problems, you may visit Dr. Ran Rubinstein of the Hudson Valley Sinus Center located in Newburgh, NY. You can also log onto the Hudson Valley Sinus Center’s website to look at more services offered at the medical center.
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