Loud snoring during sleep can be disruptive to a good night’s rest; not only for you but also for someone you love. Understandably, chronic snoring is a problem that needs to be resolved in order to keep peace at home. From a medical standpoint, snoring presents a number of serious concerns, as well. If you or someone you love snores nightly and is struggling with other symptoms, such as forgetfulness or excessive daytime fatigue, you may want to explore the possibility that they may be suffering from sleep apnea. Dr. Slepchik and his highly accredited staff have lots of experience working with patients who suffer from sleep apnea.
COVID-19 Impact on CPAP Machine
During this period of COVID-19, it is very important to keep in mind that the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device creates air pressure that will spread bacteria. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, while wearing your device you will spread bacteria to your partner. You must be free of COVID 19 in order to wear it. The D-SAD does not work in the same way.
Are There Different Types of Sleep Apnea?
There are different types of sleep apnea, defined by the causes. Dr. Slepchik provides treatment and possible surgery for obstructive sleep apnea. The three types are obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the more common form of sleep apnea.
What causes Sleep Apnea?
The more common form of sleep apnea (and the form Dr. Slepchik treats) is known as obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax. These muscles support all of the surrounding tissues such as the tonsils and the walls of the throat. When the muscles relax, the airway narrows or closes. Your brain senses this inability to breath and briefly wakes you from sleep to reopen the airway. These lapses in sleep are usually so brief you don’t even remember them. These actions can involve a snorting, choking, or gasping sound and can repeat the pattern as many as 30 times per hour all night.
Sleep apnea can have various causes:
- Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Cardiovascular problems
- Throat and tongue muscles that are abnormally relaxed
- Nasal congestion
- Family history
Signs You May Have Sleep Apnea
There are several indications that a person may have sleep apnea. Some may only be noticed by a partner or loved one who sleeps in close proximity to the affected person. A person with sleep apnea may exhibit the following symptoms such as:
- Loud snoring
- Momentary pauses in snoring, indicating a lack of respiration
- Restless sleep
- Significant daytime sleepiness, difficulty staying awake
- Falling asleep at stoplights or while watching television
- Moodiness or persistent irritability
- Decreased productivity
- Increased clumsiness and accidents
- Problems with anxiety or depression
- Diminished personal relationships
- Morning headaches and sore throat
When Should I See Someone About my Sleep Apnea?
- You regularly experience difficulty sleeping
- You are often tired during the day, even if you slept for at least seven hours the night before
- You have a reduced or impaired ability to perform regular daytime activities.
- Your partner has told you that you snore loudly and sometimes seem to stop breathing.
There are more telltale signs, as well:
- You fall asleep when driving.
- You struggle to stay awake when inactive, such as when watching TV or reading.
- You have difficulty paying attention or concentrating at work, school, or home.
- You have performance problems at work or school.
- You’re often told that you look tired.
- Your memory seems to be off.
- Your ability to respond seems slow.
- You have difficulty controlling your emotions.
- You feel the need to take naps almost every day.
If any of those characteristics sound like you, it’s probably time to be checked for sleep apnea.
What Factors Can Increase My Risk of Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea relates to excess weight around the throat when muscles relax at rest. Therefore, factors that affect fatty and muscle tissue can increase one’s risk of this type of sleep apnea. Factors to consider include:
- General weight. The heavier a person is, the more fatty tissue they will have around their neck pressing against the airway.
- Neck circumference. Generally, healthy people with a large neck circumference are more likely to have excess muscle or fatty tissue around the throat.
- Naturally narrow airway. The airway may naturally be smaller or may be narrowed by tonsils and adenoids, glands that are situated in the throat.
- Age and gender factors. Studies suggest that three times more men develop obstructive sleep apnea than women. The condition also occurs more in older individuals, likely due to the decline of muscle tone that occurs with age.
- Smoking. Sleep apnea is three times more common in smokers than in non-smokers. This is due to fluid retention and inflammation in the airway.
- Sedative use. People who take sedatives as a sleep aid may relax to the extent of closing off their airway. Remember, alcohol qualifies as a sedative also.
- Nasal obstruction. People with a deviated septum or chronic nasal congestion are more likely to develop sleep apnea.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
A doctor may diagnose sleep apnea during a comprehensive consultation and discussion of symptoms. The suspected diagnosis, along with the type of sleep apnea a person has, is confirmed through a sleep study. Home sleep studies have been developed to avoid the need for an overnight stay in a medical sleep center. During a home sleep study, a device records a person’s heart rate, breathing rate, and oxygen levels while they sleep.
CPAP And Oral Appliance Treatment Options
Historically, sleep apnea has been treated with CPAP therapy. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. This technique resolves symptoms by delivering air into the airway while a person sleeps. To achieve this, the patient must wear a face or nasal mask that is attached to a small device via a hose.
More recently, patients have been managing obstructive sleep apnea using oral appliances made by their dentist. Oral appliance therapy works by gently manipulating the lower jaw into a forward position that supports an open airway. Devices are small, comfortable, and effective at reducing or ending sleep apnea symptoms.
What Our Patients Say
“I’ve been a patient for 30 years. Exceptional expertise. Exceptional staff. Exceptionally friendly, caring and knowledgeable. The latest appliance (Panthera) has resolved my snoring and sleep apnea issues. I now sleep through the night, waking up rested and refreshed. Thank you team Slepchik!!” – Patricia C.
“I don’t wake up several times a night. My joint and muscle pain has stopped. The SAD is the best investment I have EVER made.” ~ a happy Dr. Slepchik patient
“Dr. Slepchik, I want to speak with you. Ever since I received my Sleep Apnea Device (SAD) from your office, I have more energy. I’ve been told that my snoring which had caused my partner to sleep in another room no longer exists. Thank you so much.” ~ a happy patient
What Are The Side Effects of Untreated Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea deprives the brain and body of necessary oxygen. It also increases the release of stress hormones on an ongoing basis. In conjunction with severe sleep deprivation, these effects of sleep apnea present serious health concerns. Untreated sleep apnea is a factor in heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and death. It is essential to find a solution to this problem.