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This is a picture of me after the gentleman in the background has me fully hooked up to all the electrodes and monitors necessary to do a sleep study at the Good Shepard Sleep Center in Tampa, FL, on Hillsborough Road just east of RaceTrack Road on Friday February 8, 2013.
I have a sleep disorder. I thought I slept great, it was the people around me that had the problem sleeping while I slept and snored loudly. My wife wore earplugs and occasionally checked my pulse because I had stopped breathing and she thought I had died in my sleep. I had recurrent dreams of holding my breath under water and I would awake with a start. I sweated a lot at night. I also kept TUMS on my nightstand, using them multiple times a week due to stomach acid re-flux. I never put all of these things together, nor did I ever think my fathers chronic loud “snoring” had anything to do with the senile dementia he began t suffer from in his early seventies.
Being a dentist I had heard of oral devices to treat snoring and mild sleep apnea. Three patients in a row in mid 2011 asked me to make one of these devices for them. Even with no knowledge about them or how they worked, each patient was very positive and enthusiastic. The first light went off in my head. I found a “Sleep Course” for dentists in Tampa that summer of 2011. SHASAM! This was a two day 16 hour course and I got to wear an Embletta home sleep monitor that night at home, the results were down loaded by one of the course directors and presented later in the second day. I was classified as having mild to moderate sleep apnea and heavy snoring, but most alarming to me was that my blood oxygen saturation dropped to as low as 68% – this is a number that is not compatible with life and so low that chronic oxygen saturation this low will certainly lead to brain cell death (my fathers dementia?).
I now own 4 different types of oral jaw re positioning devices and I sleep so much better and so do all those around me. No more stomach acid reflux, no recurrent dreams of drowning.
My office is beginning a relationship with The Good Shepard Sleep Center to help treat the very large percentage of people who might benefit from a better nights sleep.
DANGERS OF UNTREATED SLEEP APNEA
Untreated sleep apnea is a serious condition that can have devastating effects on the body and mind. Sleep apnea’s most noticeable side effect is leaving the person feeling drowsy and fatigued throughout the day. A person may feel as if he/she is never able to get a good night’s rest no matter how long one “sleeps”. This is because people with sleep apnea stop breathing at night, anywhere from a few seconds up to minutes at a time. Therefore, a person is never able to engage in the deeper levels of sleep, such as the REM and Delta stages.
Sleep apnea causes a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood which causes the heart to pump harder when trying to remove the carbon dioxide. In return, this causes a significant amount of stress on the heart. When untreated, sleep apnea can increase the chances of stroke, high blood pressure, and pulmonary hypertension. Many sleep apnea candidates have high blood pressure due to the extra work the heart has to perform in order to compensate for the lack of oxygen. If the condition is never treated, the strength of the heart begins to deteriorate and the heart pumps blood at a lower force than what the body needs.
Typically the heart is the first organ that experiences and shows signs of untreated sleep apnea. According to Neomi Shah, MD, at Yale University, having untreated sleep apnea for 4-5 years raises a person’s risk of having a heart attack and death by 30%.
While the heart is the most important concern as far as the effects of sleep apnea, other areas of your body and life can be affected as well. Many people who go through life with untreated sleep apnea are far more accident prone than those who have proper sleep at night. This is because sleep apnea patients can wake up hundreds of times per night fighting to catch their breath. They constantly feel tired and have trouble focusing during the day which leads to higher rates of accidents. Patients with sleep apnea have decreased reflex time due to the lack of energy. The reflexes and hand-eye coordination depend greatly on being well rested enough to focus.
There is a growing awareness of sleep apnea contributing to a wide range of health problems. By seeking medical attention and treating sleep apnea, you will not only feel better and more energized, but you’ll also be decreasing the chances of other health problems in the future.
Do you or someone you know snore? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 50% of all Americans snore. Snoring is created by the vibration of the pharyngeal soft tissues as air passes through an airway that is too small to allow for smooth unimpeded flow. Did you know that snoring is the number one symptom of a lethal disease called sleep apnea? To give you a better understanding of the term, “apnea” comes from the Greek word meaning “without breath.”
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that should not be ignored. This disease actually causes you to wake up numerous times an hour while you sleep. More specifically, obstructed sleep apnea, (OSA) is a situation in which the entire upper airway is blocked, causing airflow to stop. Ask someone to observe you while you sleep. They will notice shallow breathing and possibly even pauses while you sleep. This may look disturbing. The breathing interruptions can last anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes, per breathing episode. This causes the individual to get restless sleep and feel extremely fatigued during the day.
What makes sleep apnea so dangerous? Many individuals have sleep apnea and have no clue that they suffer from it. Untreated sleep apnea increases the chances of heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even sudden death by 46%! According to the Center for Disease Control, (CDC), 20% of the U.S. population will have sleep apnea by 2012. Even more staggering, 90% of the population will go undiagnosed. If you or your sleep partner suspects that you may have sleep apnea, please contact our office immediately.
Snoring is no longer a laughing matter. Since snoring may be a symptom of sleep apnea, it should be taken very seriously and therefore consider treatment without hesitation.
Mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can be treated effectively and easily using an Oral Appliance. Published studies over the past several years have shown this to be true and in 2006 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine stated that oral appliances are an acceptable treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea.
The type of oral appliance that I make to treat snoring brings the lower jaw foward, advancing the tongue which opens and maintains an open airway to effectively breathe thru. Legally, the diagnosis of Obstuctive Sleep Apnea is a medical, not dental diagnosis. Various studies put the sucess rate for Jaw Repositioning Appliances at between 60 and 90%.
Snoring is a major symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) but not necessarily a clinical consequence. It is estimated that 40% of adults snore. Snoring indicates that the patient has a narrow, collapsible airway. Snoring is the second largest complaint bringing people into sleep labs and the primary complaint of bed partners in the USA.
Aging is a natural process, we typically gain weight and loose muscle tone. This combination can and does lead to more OSA in the older population. One study from an adult community in Florida noted OSA was present in 65% of the population.
Almost all OSA suffer’s are snorers, but not all snorers have OSA. Snoring can e a side effect of OSA but it is also a risk factor. Snoring can be a severe social problem (anyone who sleeps next to a severe snorer knows this.)
Two to three times more men have OSA than women. Interestingly OSA is evaluated one eigth as often in women, either they underreport their symptoms or their partners sleep more soundly.
Sleeping pills and alcohol consumption contribute to OSA by relaxing muscle tone. Decreased muscle tone of the tongue, lower jaw and upper airway can lead to airway collapse and OSA. Smoking irritates and inflames the tissues of the upper airway. This inflammation can narrow the airway enough to cause or aggrivate OSA.
Many people suffer from sleep disorders. Sleep apnea has two very different types. Sleep Apnea can divided into Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA.) The cases and treatments for these two disorders are very different although the symptoms may be very similar. It is only appropriate for a dentist to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Upper airway collapse during sleep is the diagnostic feature of OSA. These episodes are recurrent ranging from hundreds to over a thousand per night in a severe sufferer. The upper airway collapse can be a partial obstruction (Hypopnea) or a complete obstruction (Apnea). The incident can last from seconds to minutes. According to ”the Wisconsin Cohort Study” of 30-60 year old adults, 9-24% of men and 4-9% of women displayed OSA.
OSA is one of the most severely under-diagnosed conditions in our population. Ninety percent (90%) of humans living with OSA have not been diagnosed and over 95% have not been treated.