If you have sleep disordered breathing you could be facing some serious health and safety issues.
What’s the 411 on SDB?
The term sleep disordered breathing is used to pigeon-hole an array of breathing related sleep problems.
It starts with snoring. The mildest form of SDB, snoring is loud breathing due to a collapsing airway during sleep. If, while you are snoring, your airway collapses to the point that your sleep is interrupted, it’s called upper airway resistance syndrome. The most serious form of SDB is obstructive sleep apnea. This is a complete collapse of your airway. During an apnea, you cannot breathe at all and your body must wake you up to begin breathing again.
Snoring is the canary in the coal mine
Snoring is a very common phenomenon, roughly 90 million Americans snore. While snoring can be harmless, it’s important to note that it’s not normal. It’s your first clue that you might have a more serious condition- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)-or that you may develop it.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the monster under your bed
The word apnea means to stop breathing. When you have obstructive sleep apnea, your tongue, soft palate, or other soft tissues collapse onto the back of your throat completely cutting off your airway. People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea stop breathing for 10 or more seconds at a time, sometimes more than 100 times a night. To start breathing again, you need to partially awaken, though you may not become aware that you’ve awoken.
The sleep apnea monster is literally stealing your sleep and oxygen. The constant waking, even if you are not aware of it, causes daytime sleepiness at its mildest, or sleep deprivation at its worst. The lack of oxygen your body gets at night can lead to a host of serious health conditions.
Obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to:
- Heart attack
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Right and left congestive heart failure
- Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Cognitive Impairment
- Sexual dysfunction
- Type II Diabetes
- Injury/death due to automobile accident from excessive daytime sleepiness
The monster doesn’t only live under adults’ beds. Children can suffer from sleep apnea too.
For children, it can cause:
- Failure to Thrive
- Attention problems
- Behavioral Issues
- Academic under performance
- ADD/ADHD and bed-wetting
I missed it. I was sleeping
The most insidious thing about sleep apnea is that it sneaks up while you are asleep. Unless you have a bed partner who’s woken up to observe it (they usually do because your snoring is so noisy!), many people have no idea they have a night-time breathing problem
Here are some sleep apnea symptoms to look out for:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Loud, disruptive snoring
- Irregular breathing during sleep (e.g. Gasping, Choking, Long pauses)
- Restless Sleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Morning Headaches
- Dry Mouth and throat
- TMJ Symptoms
The best way to diagnose the severity of your sleep apnea is with an overnight sleep study, which is either performed in a sleep clinic or at home. The study will measure how often your breathing is interrupted, the quality of sleep you get, the oxygen levels in your blood, your heart rate, and your body movements.
Dr. Nancy Nehawandian of Top Down Dental in San Jose/Los Gatos will examine the results of your sleep study and work collaboratively with your sleep physician to determine the most effective sleep apnea solutions for you.
Tame your monster
There are some simple things you can do at home to contribute to your sleep apnea treatment. If you are overweight, shedding some pounds will help reduce the amount of airway blocking tissues you have in your neck and throat. Good sleep hygiene – making sure you don’t hit the sack exhausted – will help as well. Going to bed overtired causes you to sleep so deeply your throat muscles become over relaxed and cut off your airway. You’ll also benefit from sleeping on your side (you snore most when you sleep on your back), quitting smoking, getting regular exercise and avoiding alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals near bedtime.
However, if you have moderate to severe sleep apnea, you’ll probably need a medical or dental sleep apnea solution too. That’s where Dr. Nancy Nehawandian comes in. Her dental practice, Top Down Dental in San Jose/Los Gatos offers many sleep apnea solutions:
Oral appliances are custom made devices designed to keep your airway open by repositioning your lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula, stabilizing your lower jaw and tongue and increasing the muscle tone of your tongue.
DNA appliances are similar to oral appliances but rather than the temporary solution of keeping your airway open through mandibular advancement, they holistically treat your sleep apnea by expanding the jaw while using it in the hope of not having to use any oral appliance or CPAP in the future.
Provent is one of the most recent alternatives available to sleep apnea sufferers. It consists of two small patches with plugs that fit into your nostrils. When you breathe in a valve opens, allowing the air to enter freely. As you breathe out, the valve narrows so the air is exhaled out through a smaller channel, creating back pressure which keeps your airway open.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines deliver pressurized air through a tube and mask that covers your nose. Just like blowing up a balloon, the force of the pressurized air acts as a splint to keep your airway open. Surgical procedures are another treatment modality for OSA.
Surgery usually consists of removing the excess tissue in your throat. It may also be necessary to remove your tonsils and adenoids (especially in children), your uvula, or parts of your soft palate and throat.
Rescue your sleep
Sleep apnea is a serious condition. Luckily there are many effective treatments. If you have sleep apnea symptoms, it best to look into them sooner rather than later. At Top Down Dental in San/Jose/Los Gatos, Dr. Nancy Nehawandian can diagnose your sleep apnea causes, and find the right sleep apnea solutions for you. Life without that monster under your bed will become much more restful. To get sleep apnea treatment, you can reach our San Jose office by contacting us, or calling (408) 354-5600.