It is estimated that as many as 50% of us snore regularly. Snoring severity can range from an occasional, inconvenient habit to more serious chronic heavy snoring.
Simple snoring can disturb others and cause a dry mouth or sore throat. Heavy snoring is often a symptom of sleep apnea, which can be associated with hypertension, stroke and other cardiopulmonary problems.
Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from at least ten seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Similarly, each abnormally shallow breathing event is called a hypopnea. Sleep apnea is often diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram, or “sleep study”.
There are three forms of sleep apnea: central (CSA), obstructive (OSA), and complex or mixed sleep apnea. In CSA, breathing is interrupted by a lack of respiratory effort; in OSA, breathing is interrupted by a physical block to airflow despite respiratory effort, and snoring is common.
Regardless of type, an individual with sleep apnea is rarely aware of having difficulty breathing, even upon awakening. Sleep apnea is recognized as a problem by others witnessing the individual during episodes or is suspected because of its effects on the body. Symptoms may be present for years without identification, during which time the sufferer may become conditioned to the daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with significant levels of sleep disturbance.
Sleep apnea affects not only adults but some children as well.
Effects of sleep apnea
- Daytime fatigue.
- Slower reaction time.
- Vision problems.
- Difficulty paying attention.
- Problems working effectively.
- Difficulty processing information when in a waking state.
- Moodiness, belligerence, as well as a decrease in attentiveness and drive.
- Liver function impairment, particularly fatty liver diseases such as steatosis.
- Sleep paralysis – which can lead to insomnia and depression.
Because there are many factors that could lead to some of the effects previously listed, some patients are not aware that they suffer from sleep apnea and are either misdiagnosed, or just ignore the symptoms altogether.
Signs of Sleep Apnea
- Choking or stops in breathing while asleep.
- Excessive sleepiness during the day.
- Headaches when you awake.
- Waking-up tired and thirsty.
- Moving limbs while asleep.
Treatments for Sleep Apnea
A Denturist can fit you with an oral appliance specially designed to treat snoring as well as sleep apnea.
Oral appliances are quite small, easy to wear, lite and easy to travel with. Further, they are relatively inexpensive compared to alternatives, such as surgery and CPAP devices. In addition, oral appliances are non-invasive and non-surgical and are covered by some insurance companies. They can also be financed.