Sleep apnea is a common condition in which you temporarily stop breathing while you sleep -multiple times throughout the night. The apneas can last anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute, hundreds of times a night. You can imagine how disruptive that can be to your sleep cycle! Untreated Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that can cause a host of problems including fatigue, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues of the throat relax and collapse and block the airway. As a result, repeated pauses in breathing occur, suffocating you throughout the night. This reduces your overall oxygen levels. The apneas are broken up by loud gasps for air and choking sounds. Like snoring, sleep apnea is more common in men but can occur in women as well, especially before and after menopause. Treating sleep apnea is essential for a healthy life.
A sleep doctor must determine if you have sleep apnea by utilizing a sleep study either at a center or take-home sleep apnea test. After the results, a sleep doctor will determine the diagnosis and severity. The severity determines the treatment ranging from a breathing machine (CPAP), to oral appliance or even surgical intervention.
Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. An oral appliance is worn in the mouth only while you sleep and fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. Oral appliances support your jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. The most important point is to get help if you think you may suffer from sleep apnea, it can save your life! Start by talking with your doctor and determining the next step.