What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Most people don't wake up one morning and suddenly discover that they have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). It is an insidious disease that can slowly creep into your life as you get older and often causes snoring. Patients often start to feel like they have less energy, less stamina, less mental focus, and they most naturally attribute that to the side effects of aging. Of course, as we grow "less young" things do start to change, we start to lose muscle tone in areas of the body, areas start to sag, our metabolism begins to slow down, sleep patterns can start to change, and that is where this discussion comes in as it relates to OSA.
So what exactly happens during an OSA episode?
When there is an obstructive sleep apneic event breathing totally stops, in just a few seconds your oxygen blood levels begin to go down and your carbon dioxide levels start to go up. The first physiological response from your brain is that it senses this and at first attempts to get more blood to your system by increasing your heart rate significantly which in turn causes an increase in blood pressure. As more seconds go by many patients will begin to clench their teeth together as the muscles try to open the airway by tensing up the biting muscles. Oxygen levels continue to decrease and at some point the brain figures out they is an obstruction and the patient will gasp or cough to clear the obstruction temporarily until the next apneic event occurs. In some patients this can cycle through over a hundred different events in the course of one night.
The end result is the patient awakens the next morning thinking that they slept for 8 hours, but in fact they have been in an oxygen depleted and fractured sleep pattern that never allows them to enter the deeper zones of sleep where all the magic happens. That magic in deep sleep is when all of your all of your neuro-transmitters are replenished, your hormonal system gets balanced, and your immune system gets bolstered. When this occurs repeatedly over time health and well-being issues are compromised and patients start to feel their vitality slipping away and have discounted it as a fact of aging.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment - The Good News!
Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be reversed by getting oxygen to the brain and re-establishing the deep sleep we all need to be healthy and that is done by making sure air is getting into your lungs through your airway without interruption. There are two ways to do this, one is to use a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Air Pressure. It is a machine that forces air into your airway using compressed air. Many patients cannot use this system because it is very uncomfortable and hard to get used to.
Another way that is approved by the FDA is to use a specialized oral appliance that simply positions your lower jaw forwards and down to naturally open the airway and keep the airway from collapsing. Patients find oral appliances both comfortable and effective in treating OSA as an alternative to CPAP machines.
Two Treatments for Sleep Apnea
So patients have two choices and both can work – we specialize in oral appliances so if your are frustrated with CPAP or just don't want to go that direction then Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Dental Medicine may be your solution.
Come see us for a consultation to see if an oral appliance will work in your situation. We can tell with a free 90 second test to determine if an appliance will work in your situation: 713-828-8587.