Farmington Hills dentist discusses symptoms of sleep apnea and treatment options
By Dr. Richard Bernstein
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects millions of Americans. What is often just thought of as “chronic snoring” is actually a serious disorder that can cause a variety of issues for the patient.
During sleep, our muscles all over the body, including our throat relax. For most individuals, the airway remains open, however for patients with sleep apnea, the airway is narrower and can become blocked. Patients with sleep apnea experience multiple moments over the course of an evening where their breathing either becomes shallow or completely stops. These pauses (apneic episodes) can sometimes last up to ten seconds or longer and occur tens of times during the course of each hour.
Some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Daytime fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- Depression / Anxiety
- Frequent headaches
- Poor concentration
- Dry mouth
- Problems with weight
- High blood pressure
We’re Here to Help You
How do we diagnose sleep apnea?Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed for long periods of time because most of the symptoms occur during sleep, so individuals may be unaware of their occurrence. The problem with undiagnosed sleep apnea is it can lead to an increase in other serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and even sudden death. The daytime fatigue caused by sleep apnea can also be a huge risk for potentially fatal workplace or transportation accidents.
The first step in obtaining a sleep apnea diagnosis is an evaluation with Dr. Bernstein. During this appointment, patients have an opportunity to explain his or her symptoms and the issues they are having with the inability to get sufficient sleep. We will look at the patient’s medical history and may refer him or her to a sleep study. Sleep studies are the most accurate way to determine if the airways are blocked. Patients with sleep apnea will often wake hundreds of times in a single evening. This means poor quality of sleep and can cause a number of problems that impact the quality of life.
Treating sleep apnea
Once a diagnosis of sleep apnea is made patients may be directed to try CPAP treatment. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. The CPAP machine includes a mask that is worn during sleep to keep the airway open. CPAP treatment can be extremely effective, unfortunately, many patients find the machine too loud or the device uncomfortable and are not compliant.
As an alternative to CPAP treatment, we offer custom oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea. This small, mouthpiece is worn during sleep to keep the tongue down and the jaw in a proper position to keep the airway open throughout the night. Many patients find oral appliance therapy to be life changing as it dramatically improves the quality of sleep, allowing individuals to get through his or her day feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. Patients prefer oral appliances over CPAP machines because the devices are comfortable, easy to wear, simple to care for, and easy to travel with.
Don’t suffer in silenceIf your partner has mentioned to you that your snoring has worsened over time, or if you checked off many of the symptoms mentioned above such as daytime fatigue, chronic headaches, inability to concentrate, etc., it may be time to schedule an evaluation for sleep apnea. Our team can help with an accurate diagnosis and if you do have sleep apnea, have you on your way to improved sleep and improved quality of life with a custom oral appliance.
To schedule a consultation at our Farmington Hills office, call us today at 248.636.2100. Our goal is to provide you with the services you need to lead a better, healthier life.
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