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
- 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
- Heart disease
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.