Sleep Apnea Treatment in Stamford CT
Providing Stamford with Quality Care
Managing Sleep Apnea in Stamford CT
Snoring vs. Sleep Apnea: Do I have Sleep Apnea?
There are millions of Americans who frequently snore while sleeping. Snoring itself is caused by tissues of the throat relaxing to the extent where they cause a partial blockage in the airway, causing vibrational noise while sleeping. Typically, men are more prone to both snoring and sleep apnea than women, and while not all who snore have sleep apnea, the two conditions often go hand-in-hand. The louder one’s snoring is, the more likely it is they have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes snoring patterns and irregular breathing. The term apnea itself refers to when a person momentarily stops breathing completely. The two main types of sleep apnea include obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). The primary difference between OSA and CSA concerns how they are triggered in the body.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is known to be the most common type which develops when there is a blockage of the airways. It’s important to note that it’s common for patients with obstructive sleep apnea to exhibit certain physical traits such as having a large neck, large tonsils, or a low-hanging soft palate (the back of the roof of one’s mouth).
Central sleep apnea (CSA) refers to another sort of sleep apnea that stems specifically from your central nervous system. Central sleep apnea occurs when the respiratory muscles fail to activate, due to the brain failing to signal the body to breath. This generally lasts for periods of 10-30 seconds throughout the night. This condition is also common in patients who have neuromuscular diseases or in those who have had a previous stroke or heart failure. While OSA is admittedly the most common, it’s also possible in certain cases for people to have both OSA and CSA which is known as mixed sleep apnea.
Causes What Can Cause Sleep Apnea?
- A severe overbite that pulls the jaw back, causing a blockage of the airways.
- In overweight individuals there can be excess weight in the soft tissues of the neck which can weigh down on the airway especially when lying down.
- Hormonal changes that occur at night can cause the muscles surrounding one’s airway to become less stiff while they are asleep. This can make it more difficult for the airway to stay open, making it more susceptible to being blocked.
Untreated sleep apnea can lead to motor vehicle accidents, as well as accidents and poorer performance at work due to chronic sleep deprivation. In children and adolescents this can often lead to poor attention span and lower academic performance in school. Sleep apnea can also aggravate other health conditions leading to even more serious complications including:
- Bothersome chest pain from a lack of oxygen.
- Can lead to and/or increase the likelihood of various health issues such as stroke, hypertension, arrhythmias, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, as well as diabetes.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Daytime drowsiness
- Can cause insomnia as well as the urge to urinate at night.
- Difficulty with concentration
- Waking up suddenly while choking or gasping
- High blood pressure
Diagnosing sleep apnea requires a sleep study to help identify episodes of sleep apnea, with the more episodes equaling a more severe case of sleep apnea. Sleep studies are generally conducted overnight in a specialized lab. A polysomnogram (PSG) is used to monitor a patient overnight, and tracks things such as oxygen and co2 levels, vital signs, brain movement, as well as snoring and physical movement.
How to Avoid Worsening Symptoms
If you suffer from sleep apnea, there are some basic preventative measures you can take to help avoid aggravating symptoms. These can include basic changes such as avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills as well as other depressant medications. The reasoning for this is that when these substances are used, they can allow the throat muscles around airways to relax and increase the frequency and severity of symptoms. Sleeping on one’s side can also help since it can allow for better airflow into one’s lungs. In terms of proper treatment, we’ll go into some of the most popular methods for handling sleep apnea below.
CPAP Machine for Sleep Apnea CPAP Machine: Uses & Information
Probably the most common method of treatment is to use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to deliver pressurized air through a plastic face mask or nasal prongs. Masks come in different varieties such as full-face masks or smaller nasal masks, depending on what is most effective and comfortable for the patient. A CPAP requires daily use but is effective for many. However, in some cases people stop using them as it can be uncomfortable to wear, especially on a nightly basis. This inevitably of course leads to a return of symptoms for the patient, bringing a need for alternative solutions.
Oral appliance therapy offers an alternative to the CPAP with the use of an oral mouthpiece for alleviating one’s symptoms of sleep apnea. These dental devices can be used to improve airflow for cases of obstructive sleep apnea. They somewhat resemble athletic mouth guards and can help prevent one’s tongue from blocking their throat, as well as helping to keep the lower jaw from moving too far back while sleeping.
Getting Fitted for an Oral Mouthpiece
If a dentist determines that you are a good candidate for a sleep apnea device, they’ll then proceed to take an impression of your teeth. After they have finished making your new mouthpiece, you will have a follow up appointment to gauge how well it fits and to review instructions regarding general usage and how to properly clean the device. In some cases, further adjustments may be necessary for the dentist to perform, and it is often recommended to schedule an additional sleep study to gauge how well the device is working.
Potential Downsides of Oral Appliance Therapy
- Dry mouth
- Changes in one’s bite
- Is not ideal for those with untreated teeth, jaw, or TMJ (temporomandibular joint) related pain.
The Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy
- Can improve daytime fatigue, snoring, as well as difficulties with concentration
- Is much more convenient and portable, (especially when travelling) than using a CPAP
- Does not require electricity nor does it make noise which might hinder one from sleeping
If you’re in the Stamford, Connecticut area, don’t let sleep apnea rob you of a goodnight’s rest! Forget having to seek out a specialist and come in to The Stein Dental Group for a consultation to discuss your best options.
What a nice group of people! They were organized, showcased safe & clean hygienic practices and (as always) managed to keep me calm during the exam. You’ll never have this much fun at the dentist!