Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Sleep apnea affects patients’ lives in a number of ways, compromising both their health and their quality of life. The condition causes patients to stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night, depriving the patient of adequate amounts of oxygen.

Because sleep apnea can have such serious consequences for patients’ health, it’s important to be aware of the condition’s symptoms so that you can seek treatment.

Patients have various treatment options, including Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) masks and oral appliance therapy. Dr. Nathanson will work closely with you to make sure that you have access to the treatment option that best meets your needs.

To learn more about sleep apnea and treatments to address it, call our office to schedule a consultation.

I snore. Do I have sleep apnea?

Loud, persistent snoring can be an indication of sleep apnea. As you inhale through a partially obstructed airway, the incoming air causes the soft oral tissues at the airway opening to vibrate, creating a snoring sound.

However, snoring doesn’t necessarily mean that you have sleep apnea. You will need to complete a sleep study in order to confirm the diagnosis. Sleep studies often can be completed in the comfort of the patient’s home.

Furthermore, you may have sleep apnea even if you don’t snore. In addition to snoring, other sleep apnea symptoms include:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Frequent headaches or sore throats upon waking
  • Irritability and other mood changes

Certain risk factors are also associated with sleep apnea, including:

  • Male gender
  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Large neck circumference

It’s important to be aware of both symptoms and risk factors so that you can be evaluated if you suspect you may have sleep apnea.

Why do I need sleep apnea treatment?

The benefits of effective sleep apnea treatment are significant. Sleep apnea is associated with a variety of serious health conditions, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Depression

Getting effective treatment for sleep apnea can reduce the severity of those conditions. Sleep apnea also is associated with an increased risk of sudden premature death, so interventions to treat it can be life-saving endeavors.

Sleep apnea also affects a patient’s quality of life and can influence issues such as mood and attention. It may be more difficult to focus on your work if you have untreated sleep apnea or have meaningful interactions with your family. Treatment can help improve life satisfaction, as well.

What are the treatment options for sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues at the back of the throat collapse and obstruct the airway opening. As such, effective treatment options focus on preventing the conditions that cause the apneic episodes.

One highly effective treatment option is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) mask, which forces air into the airway, keeping it open throughout the duration of sleep. However, many patients find CPAP masks uncomfortable, and ultimately about half of patients abandon this treatment option.

If you’ve tried a CPAP and it hasn’t worked for you, you can also consider oral appliance therapy. With this approach, patients wear an appliance similar to a mouthguard while they are asleep. The appliance holds the jaw forward, keeping the soft oral tissues away from the airway opening.

FAQs about Sleep Apnea and Snoring

What are the causes of sleep apnea?

The main cause of obstructive sleep apnea is blockage of the airway opening during sleep. The airway obstruction happens repeatedly, anywhere from 5-100 times per hour. Certain aspects of a patient’s physiological can increase the likelihood of sleep apnea, such as obesity, large neck circumference or congenitally narrow nasal passages or undersized jaws.

Is an oral appliance an effective sleep apnea treatment option?

Oral appliances can be highly effective at treating sleep apnea. Our practice offers the TAP, which consists of top and bottom sections. A hook on the top section attaches to the bottom section in order to hold the jaw forward and prevent apneic episodes. If you have not been able to adhere to wearing a CPAP mask, you may find oral appliance therapy to be a good alternative.

Is sleep apnea dangerous to someone's health?

Sleep apnea and the resulting dearth of oxygen are associated with a number of health risks. This is likely because inflammation increases in the body when low amounts of oxygen are present and when sleep is disrupted. The list of health conditions that appear to have some type of relationship with sleep apnea include stroke, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There is also some evidence that people with sleep apnea are more likely to have liver problems, and the fatigue and lack of alertness caused by sleep apnea can also affect a patient’s well-being.

How much does an oral appliance cost?

The cost of oral appliance therapy will vary from patient to patient, depending on varying characteristics of the case. Patients may have insurance coverage for oral appliance therapy that will defray their out-of-pocket expenses. Our staff is happy to assist you with filing insurance claims so that you may maximize any benefits that you have.