Research reported by The National Sleep Foundation indicates that nearly 20 million Americans are living with sleep apnea. This common sleep disorder can have a few different causes. Obstruction is the most common factor. Obstructive sleep apnea can have significant effects on your health and wellness. It is imperative to recognize the signs of this condition and to also know where to turn for help.
Dr. Ania Mohelicki has completed advanced training at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute (LVI), where she honed her skills in diagnosing and treating obstructive sleep apnea. Contact us at 303-443-0998 today to learn more.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which you stop and start breathing several times while you sleep. The reason this happens is that the muscles at the back of your throat create an obstruction to airflow when they become relaxed. The muscles at the back of the throat support the uvula, tonsils, tongue, and soft palate at the back of the roof of your mouth.
When airflow is obstructed for several seconds, your blood oxygen level decreases, and the level of carbon dioxide in your blood increases. Sensing this, your brain rouses sleep with a jolt of adrenaline and other stress hormones. You restart breathing but may never wake up enough to realize what’s happening on a structural and physiological level.
What are the Signs of Sleep Apnea?
We cannot rely on your awareness of a problem to recognize sleep apnea because you may rarely wake up during an episode. Often, obstructive sleep apnea is identified by a person who sleeps in close proximity to you. This is because the sounds of this sleep disorder are obvious. Loud, disruptive snoring is one of the most common signs of obstructive sleep apnea. This is marked by pauses in snoring, after which you may make a choking or gasping noise as breathing resumes.
In addition to loud snoring and pauses in breathing, obstructive sleep apnea can cause a variety of other symptoms. These include:
- Daytime fatigue and sleepiness.
- Waking with a headache, sore throat, or dry mouth.
- Poor memory and concentration.
- Changes in mood such as increased irritability, anxiety, or depression.
- Decreased libido.
- High blood pressure.
- Becoming more accident-prone or clumsy.
If I Snore, Does That Mean I Have Sleep Apnea?
Loud, chronic snoring is a telltale sign of obstructive sleep apnea. However, snoring doesn’t mean that you have this condition. You might snore loudly when the muscles around your throat relax and impede airflow. The sound of snoring means that air is moving, albeit with some difficulty. The pressure of the air moving over soft tissues causes vibration, which is what makes the snoring sound.
It’s important to know if you have obstructive sleep apnea. If your snoring is a concerning habit, talk to your doctor or to Dr. Ania! The same treatment that is used for obstructive sleep apnea may help reduce your snoring so you and those around you can get a restful night’s sleep.
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
To obtain an accurate diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. Ania may perform a thorough medical history related to your sleep, snoring, and daytime wakefulness. You may be asked to keep a sleep diary and a record of symptoms that may indicate poor quality sleep.
In addition to reviewing your symptoms, sleep patterns, and medical history, the doctor will also examine your mouth, neck, and throat. The exam may focus on evaluating the size of the back of the mouth, the structure of the soft palate, and other characteristics that may narrow the airway. You may also be advised to undergo a sleep study.
Sleep studies have long been a reliable source of information regarding suspected sleep apnea. Historically, these tests were performed in a sleep lab, meaning that you would have to spend a night away from home where a sleep specialist would monitor you as you slept. Today, the vast majority of sleep studies for sleep apnea are performed using a home-based portable polysomnography kit.
A home sleep study measures a variety of vital signs, including your blood pressure and heart rate. Airflow through the nostrils is also measured, along with a recording of snoring, chest movement, and blood oxygen levels. The sleep study is painless and takes just one night in most cases. After the study, the small device is sent to a lab for interpretation. Your study should alert us to the number of times you stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer, the number of times your breathing becomes blocked, and your overall apnea-hypopnea index, the number of apnea episodes you have in an hour.
How Can My Dentist Help with Sleep Apnea?
In recent years, it has become common to treat obstructive sleep apnea using oral appliance therapy. This is an excellent alternative to medical CPAP therapy, which requires you to wear a mask over your nose while you sleep. The mask forces air into the nostrils to keep your airway open.
Oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea works by moving your lower jaw and tongue slightly forward. The custom-made mouthpiece is comfortable and works effectively to maintain airflow while you sleep. This treatment is convenient, comfortable, and effective.
Contact Dr. Mohelicki For Sleep Apnea Treatment In Boulder, CO!
Chronic snoring and daily fatigue don’t have to be your norm Contact our office at 303-443-0998 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Mohelicki. She can help you understand the cause of your snoring and also find an ideal solution!