Sleep Apnea is a serious disorder that has been proven to raise stress levels, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and raise the likelihood of involvement in a serious automobile accident by 300%.
Those who suffer from sleep apnea suck their tongue against the back of their throat while sleeping. This restricts airflow and causes a steady decrease in the brain’s oxygen level until the sleeper awakens and the tongue returns to its normal position.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Most often a partner notices the symptoms of sleep apnea during the night. However, an observant person can become aware of symptoms during morning hours. Common symptoms include:
Inability to remain asleep
Breathing disruptions while asleep
Waking abruptly with a shortness of breath
Chronic, morning headaches
Daytime drowsiness (likelihood of falling asleep while reading or watching TV)
Increased Risk of Sleep Apnea
While no factors can restrict you from being afflicted with sleep apnea, some people are at an increased risk:
Those who are overweight, as fat deposits around the neck can obstruct breathing
Men are twice as likely to develop sleep apnea than woman
The elderly are two to three times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea
People with a history of sleep apnea in their family are at a higher risk
Those with high blood pressure
Smokers increase their risk as smoking inflames the upper airway
Types of Sleep Apnea
Physicians classify sleep apnea into three categories:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea – This occurs when throat muscles relax and restrict airflow to the brain. Upon sensing a decrease in airflow, the brain brings you to consciousness and your airflow is resumed. Even though the sleeper awakes with a gasp or choking sound, they believe they experienced a full night sleep. This is the most prevalent form of sleep apnea.
Central Sleep Apnea – The brain does not transmit the appropriate signals to the muscles that control breathing. The sleeper realizes they slept poorly.
Complex Sleep Apnea – When one suffers from both central and obstructive sleep apnea
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Dr. Christine Fialka-Eshenko has studied under Dr. Kent Smith, a renowned sleep apnea doctor who also teaches courses at a premiere Dental institute.
Dentists cannot diagnose sleep and breathing disorders, but we will work in conjunction with your family physician who would, after ordering a sleep study and polysomnogram, derive diagnosis from that of mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea.
CPAP is the primary way to treat sleep apnea and has been proven to benefit those suffering from extreme cases of sleep apnea. The problem is that studies have shown that only 23-45% of patients actually use it. Those who do use CPAP only apply it for 4-5 hours, but in order for CPAP to be effective, it must be worn 7-8 hours nightly.
Considering that those prescribed a CPAP machine fail to adequately use it, we believe oral appliances, such as mandibular repositioning appliances, are the best treatment for sleep apnea.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea and live in the Edmonton, Alberta area, please contact Edmonton dentist Dr. Christine Fialka-Eshenko today for a consultation to better your sleep and quality of life.