Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by the stoppage of breathing at intervals during sleep. If not treated, sleep apnea is a dangerous condition because it may be fatal. Obese and overweight people are more at risk of developing sleep apnea.
Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention in case you notice a partner, child, or sibling pausing their breathing for a considerable amount of time during their sleep.
Types of Sleep apnea
There are three forms of sleep apnea: central, obstructive, and complex sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common of the three types of sleep apnea. It occurs when the tongue muscles relax intermittently in between breathing, leading to airway blockage. A noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is heavy snoring amid pauses in breathing.
Central sleep apnea
Like obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is a disorder in which your breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Central sleep apnea occurs due to the failure of the brain to send proper signals to muscles that control breathing.
Complex sleep apnea
Complex sleep apnea occurs when repeated sleep apneas repeatedly occur for more than five hours when obstructive events have been eliminated by positive airway pressure, and no clear cause of central sleep apnea such as narcotics and systolic heart failure can be determined.
Signs and Symptoms
The common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, which, if noticed, should warrant you to seek medical advice, include:
●Gasping for air during sleep
● Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep
●Awakening with a dry mouth
Some of the signs above cannot be noticed by the patients themselves and require reporting by a third party. If you notice most of these signs, it’s of the essence to request someone to observe your sleep patterns for breathing pauses or consult the doctor early enough to rule out any possibility of sleep apnea.
Diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea
The sleep apnea snoring dentist evaluates your condition based on your signs and symptoms, an examination, and tests. If being attended to by general practitioners, they may refer you to a sleep apnea snoring dentist who is a specialist in this field. The doctor will examine the back of your throat, mouth, and nose for tissue abnormalities. Additionally, your neck and waist circumference may be measured to determine the ratio. The doctor may also check your blood pressure.
What tests are performed to detect sleep apnea?
Your doctor will perform a polysomnographic test or home sleep apnea testing for obstructive sleep apnea. Polysomnography involves hooking the patient up to equipment that monitors brain, lung, and heart activity, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels when the patient is asleep. This procedure is successful during the slow-wave sleep period or the night’s first half. If diagnosed with sleep apnea, the patient is woken up, and positive airway pressure (PAP) is administered throughout the night’s second part.
Other sleep disorders can also be determined using the sleep test, such as limb movements during sleep and narcolepsy. If necessary, the patient can also be provided with an at-home version of polysomnography, which involves the measurement of airflow, breathing patterns, limb movements, and snoring intensity.
Polysomnograph tests are also performed to diagnose central and complex sleep apnea. However, after determining sleep apnea using the sonograph, doctors further perform PAP tests to distinguish obstructive from central and complex sleep apnea.
The sleep apnea snoring dentist might recommend lifestyle changes if the sleep apnea is mild:
●Reduce your weight if you are obese or overweight
●Perform regular exercise
●Don’t drink immediately during your sleeping hours
●Don’t sleep on your back
●Use nasal decongestant
●Avoid taking anti-anxiety or sleeping pills
For moderate to severe sleep apnea, the doctor may recommend other managing methods in case the methods above fail to work. The therapies may include positive airway pressure, oral device (mouthpiece), and surgery or other procedures.
PAP (Positive Airway Pressure)
Positive airway pressure involves fitting a piece on the nose, connected to a machine that delivers air through the open nose. This reduces the number of respiratory events required during sleep.
Oral devices are used for people with moderate sleep apnea who cannot use the CPAP method.
Surgery is only considered if other therapies are not effective. It involves tracheostomy, surgical removal of tissue, or jaw surgery.