Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Diagnosis and Treatment

Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Diagnosis and Treatment

February 1, 2022

The most prevalent symptom of obstructive sleep apnea is breathing difficulties when sleeping and some serious health problems like hypertension and heart problems when left untreated. The patient can also exhibit loud snoring and daytime fatigue even if they get enough sleep at night. Anyone can get sleep apnea, but mostly overweight older men.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder that occurs when you get breathing difficulties that interrupt your sleep. Those with untreated sleep apnea may abruptly stop breathing recurrently as they sleep, and it can occur a hundred times in one night.

If ignored, it can cause several health problems like high blood pressure, stroke, cardiomyopathy (where heart muscles enlarge abnormally), heart failure, blood sugar, and imminence of heart attacks. In addition, this condition can also cause one to perform poorly at work, underachievement in school for learners, and increase the risk for causing car accidents.

The two types of sleep apnea include:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea – this is the most common type. It leads to recurrent episodes of complete or partial blockage of the upper airway when sleeping. During an episode, chest muscles and the diaphragm are overworked since more pressure is needed to keep the airway open. As a result, breathing comes back with a loud air gasp and a body jerk.

These episodes interfere with sleep, reducing oxygen flow to most vital organs leading to irregularities of the heart rhythm.

  • Central sleep apnea – For this type, the airway is open, but the brain fails to communicate with the responsible respiratory muscles. This is because of the instability of the entire system. This type of sleep apnea is associated with the failure of some central nervous system functions.

Who Is At Risk of Sleep Apnea?

Studies reveal that sleep apnea affects about 25% of men and 10% of women. People of all ages can suffer from this disorder, including children and babies. However, it mostly affects people over the age of 50 and the overweight.

Some physical traits and clinical features are connected to sleep apnea disorder, such as excessive weight and having a large neck. Also, people with structural anomalies that narrow the airway, like nasal obstruction, low-hanging soft palates, and large tonsils, are more likely to get the disease. Having a small jaw or overbites are also risk factors.

Sleep Apnea and Teeth Grinding

Some hypotheses state that sleep apnea increases the prevalence of teeth grinding episodes. This concept explains that grinding teeth is a natural response to recurrent pauses due to obstructive sleep apnea.

It’s argued that when the airway is blocked, muscle mouth movement may work to reopen it, which causes tooth grinding. Another leeway is that the grinding aids in lubricating the back throat tissues that dry out following labored breathing caused by sleep apnea. Thus, sleep-related bruxism is the body’s natural response to guard against obstructive sleep apnea effects.

Diagnosis

The sleep apnea dentist near me evaluates your condition regarding your signs and symptoms, the exam, and tests. The dentist in Dublin may also refer you to a sleep specialist for additional evaluation.

During the physical examination, your dentist 94568 also examines the back of the throat, mouth, and extra tissues for additional tissue abnormalities. The View Mobile Dental dentist may also measure your neck and waist circumference and blood pressure.

You may need a night over at the sleep center for additional assessments to monitor breathing and other functions during sleep.

Treatment

Lifestyle Changes

For mild sleep apnea cases, the sleep apnea dentist in Dublin may recommend the following lifestyle changes:

  • Weight loss for overweight people
  • Regular exercise
  • Moderate drinking if you must drink. You should also mot drink hours before sleep
  • Quit smoking
  • Using nasal decongestants and allergy prescriptions
  • Avoid sleeping on your back
  • Do not take medications like anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills.

If the measures do not improve your sleep apnea or your condition is moderate to severe, the dentist in Dublin recommends other treatments like some devices that open your blocked airways. Some cases may need surgery.

The mechanical treatment uses Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy. This requires the patient to wear a mask over their nose and mouth. It gently ushes regulated air through the upper airway tissues, preventing them from collapsing when sleeping.

Other treatments include:

  • Mandibular advancement devices – they are dental devices for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. They prevent the tongue from blocking your throat.
  • Hypoglossal nerve simulator – an electrode stimulator placed on the chest’s right side to stimulate the hypoglossal nerve in the neck and chest.
  • Surgery – Surgical procedures help people with obstructive sleep apnea and those who snore but don’t suffer from sleep apnea. They are performed after the patient fails to respond to other conservative sleep apnea measures like CPAP.

Surgical procedures include somnoplasty, tonsillectomy, mandibular advancement surgery, and nasal surgery.

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