Do You Have Sleep Apnea?

Clues that sleep apnea might be an issue come in different forms. Snoring is a common symptom. Long lapses in breathing, gasping or chocking during sleep may signal apnea episodes. Other clues could be:

  • Daytime sleepiness.
  • Dry mouth upon awakening.
  • Morning headaches.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Heart palpitations or heart problems.
  • Heartburn/GERD.
  • Diabetes.
  • Overweight/obesity.
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea and snoring occur when soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes during sleep and restricts or blocks your airway. As airflow stops, the oxygen level in your blood drops, causing your brain to “reset” the breathing process. Sleep apnea causes your sleep cycle to “kick start” multiple times during the night, which not only affects how you feel when you wake up, but can also lead to chronic conditions. Chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes are associated with sleep apnea and can be some of the health issues that can even be fatal if left untreated.

What is Sleep Apnea / Click Here.

Here’s the quandary

Not everyone that snores has sleep apnea but all those that have sleep apnea and its breathing variations, snore. An in center or home sleep test can determine the severity of a person’s snoring and oxygen level. Snoring alone is a sign of breathing airway restriction but the severity of restriction is determined by oxygen loss. Oxygen loss effects health greatly.

What Does Sleep Apnea Look Like / Click Here.

What is AHI?

Here’s a brief video about what happens to our breathing during apnea: [Video – Use our “what is sleep apnea” video used on our home page] Sleep doctors describe the severity of sleep apnea by using the AHI (Apnea Hypopnia Index). Index is a medical term for “average”. So AHI is the total of apneas (compete air blockage) plus hypopneas (partial blockage) divided by the persons sleep time. It is generally agreed that any AHI over 14/hr is destructive to one’s health. Although, any AHI over 5/hr can also effect an individual’s rest and health.

Video – What is Sleep Apnea / Click Here.
More Details / Click Here.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Those that can use CPAP routinely find it very effective in providing improved rest, oxygen saturation and health. What about those that can’t tolerate CPAP or choose not to try it?

How does a mouthpiece work? An oral device can be effective for many sleep apnea and snoring situations. Most oral devices function similarly even though they are configured differently through different shapes and materials. Because the tongue is “tethered” to the inside front of the jawbone, the tongue moves forward as the jaw moves forward. So, the objective is to posture the jaw the least forward it takes to move the tongue away from the airway for improved airflow. With adequate airflow there is good oxygen saturation and associated restedness. The oral device helps the jaw “rest” in the forward posture so the jaw muscles don’t have to work to stay in a set posture while sleeping. These retainer-like devices help facilitate nighttime breathing without needing a mask or machine. You will be able to breathe freely and get a good night’s sleep. Dr. McLaughlin understands that each patient has unique needs and offers a number of different models to address these differences. We will discuss which type would fit your individual needs the best. Here are some mouthpiece types we find most useful to most folks.

Types of Oral Appliances / Click Here

Self Help For Snoring

Sleep apnea treatment is an ongoing process. Aging usually increases sleep apnea difficulty. By keeping a close eye on the success of your treatment solution, our team continues to check in on patients weeks, months, and even years after providing care.

The Benefits of Life Style Adjustments

Any substance that relaxes muscle will increase airway blockage. Muscle relaxants include alcohol. Avoid alcohol use less than 3 hrs. before sleeping.

 Alcohol

Any substance that relaxes muscles will increase airway blockage. Muscle relaxants include alcohol. Avoid alcohol use less than 3hrs. before sleeping.

 Weight Gain

Increased weight (fat accumulation) increases the possibility  of airway constriction and consequently snoring and sleep apnea.  Shedding excess weight has a bonus feature.  For every 10% body weight reduction an up to 40% improvement in sleep breathing can be accomplished!

Smoking

Smoking irritates nasal and throat tissue which produces congestion of airway tissue. This in turn reduces airway space. Eliminating nasal congestion is useful. Decongestants and the use of a Neti Pot have been useful to some.

Nose Breathing

Nasal Dilators like the Mute or Max Air dilators can improve airflow through the nose to reduce snoring as long as the tongue is not obstructing the airway. Dr. McLaughlin can help determine whether this would help you. Sometimes the combination of proper sleep position and a nasal dilator can be the solution!

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