Understanding Sleep Apnea

More than 18 million Americans suffer from the sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when breathing is disrupted while sleeping. When breathing is disrupted, the brain and the rest of the body are not receiving enough oxygen.

Risk Factors and Effects

There are many risk factors associated with sleep apnea including:

  • Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies or sinus problems
  • Having a family history of sleep apnea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux or GERD
  • Being male
  • Having a large neck size (over 17 inches)
  • Obesity
  • Being over 40
  • Having large tonsils, a large tongue or a small jaw bone
  • Bullets

Left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a number of health conditions such as:

  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Headaches

Sleep apnea can also affect an individual’s daily activities and performance at home, school or on the job.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – The soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses and closes causing a blockage of the airway.
  • Central Sleep Apnea – While the airway is not blocked, the brain does not signal the muscles to breathe.
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea – A combination of the two apneas.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you are experiencing any of the sleep apnea symptoms you should get tested. The test is called a polysomnogram and is usually done in a sleep disorder center by a certified sleep specialist. The test will determine if you have sleep apnea or some other type of sleeping disorder. After you have been diagnosed, your doctor will discuss available treatment options which may include:

  • Using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device: A mask worn over the nose and/or mouth while you sleep. This device keeps your airways open so that you will have regular breathing and uninterrupted sleep.
  • Surgery: If you have sinus problems such as a deviated septum, you may require surgery.
  • A specially designed dental device that will help keep the airway open during sleep.

Schedule a consultation

If you believe you are suffering from sleep apnea and need to be diagnosed, contact our office to schedule a consultation. Dr. Myers can refer you to a local physician who will coordinate a sleep study and properly diagnose your condition or concerns. For those who have mild to moderate sleep apnea or sleep disordered breathing or patients intolerant of the CPAP, Dr. Myers offers oral appliance therapy.