Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Your sleep impacts every aspect of your health and daily life. Sleeping well helps you look, feel and perform your best. But a sleep problem can be harmful to your health and well-being. One of the most common sleep problems is obstructive sleep apnea.
Learn more about the warning signs and how you can get help below.
About Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which can cause them to stop breathing hundreds of times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute.
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. As a result, repeated breathing pauses occur, which often reduce your oxygen levels. These breathing pauses are followed by brief awakenings that disturb your sleep.
Common signs of sleep apnea include snoring and gasping or choking sounds during sleep. Like snoring, sleep apnea is more common in men, but it can occur in women too, especially during and after menopause. Having excess body weight, a narrow airway or misaligned jaw all increase the risk of sleep apnea.
Is Treating OSA Important?
Treating obstructive sleep apnea is incredibly important to your health. When left untreated, sleep apnea often causes excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, as well as morning headaches and memory loss. Sleep apnea also is a threat to your safety as it increases your risk of drowsy driving and workplace accidents. Untreated sleep apnea raises your risk for serious health problems like:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Chronic acid reflux
- Erectile dysfunction
Severe, untreated sleep apnea even increases your risk of death.
How is OSA Diagnosed?
A doctor must determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea. A doctor who is a sleep specialist can provide you with a complete sleep evaluation. This may involve either an overnight sleep study at a sleep center or a home sleep apnea test.
We can screen you for sleep apnea and, if it’s determined a test should be conducted, send you home with a home sleep unit right from our office. Our collaborative sleep physician will then interpret the data from your sleep study to make a diagnosis and treatment suggestions.
How is OSA Treated?
Dependent on the severity of your sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, oral appliance therapy, or surgery may be suggested.
- CPAP therapy involves wearing a face mask connected by tubing to a constantly running machine.
- Oral appliance therapy uses a mouth guard-like device – worn only during sleep – to maintain an open, unobstructed airway.
- Surgical options include a variety of procedures. All have varying side effects and rates of success.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and mild-moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
An oral appliance is worn in the mouth only while you sleep and fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. Oral appliances support your jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway.
Many patients consider a sleep apnea appliance to be more comfortable to wear than a CPAP mask. Oral appliances also are quiet, portable and easy to care for.
Oral appliance therapy is covered by many medical insurance plans.
Talk to us about treatment options for snoring and sleep apnea at your next appointment. Ask if oral appliance therapy might be the right solution for you. Not only will you sleep better, but in turn, your spouse will as well.
Already been screened by our team? Were you sent home with a home sleep test unit? Need help with your set-up?
If you’ve already been screened by Dr. Hughes and our team and it was determined that a home sleep test is needed, you may have been sent home with one of our home sleep test units for your sleep study. We understand that sometimes what we discuss at your appointment is a blur once you get home. No worries. Read the points below for a refresher:
- Your sleep test is set automatically to start at the bedtime you reported to our team, so don’t worry about turning anything on or getting anything started, but also don’t feel pressured to go to sleep at the bedtime you reported to us today. We can trim your study to the time you fell asleep.
- If you feel like you have forgotten how to set up the unit, remember that there is an explanatory card provided in your kit. The only suggestion that we make that’s contrary to the included instructions is that you wear the pulse oxometer on your middle finger rather than your pointer finger for best results.
- If you still feel unsure about the set-up, CLICK HERE to watch a short instructional video.
- Remember to return every item in the kit to our office by 10 am CST tomorrow (the day after your sleep test). Our office opens at 8am CST.
- The only items you do not return to us are those items that were in the plactic bag (your nasal canula and tape). KEEP THESE ITEMS. This is YOUR personal equipment and may need to be used again with any follow-up studies that are warranted. If you don’t keep this equipment and need a new nasal canula for future studies, you will be charged for such. Save your cannula and save your money!
- Even if you feel like you didn’t sleep well the morning after your study, remember that the sleep physician only needs 4 hours of information to make a diagnosis.
- Once you return the sleep test unit, our team will send the information obtained to our collaborating sleep physician who will make a diagnosis and treatment suggestion. Once our office has recieved this information from the sleep physician, we will mail the report directly to the address we have on file for you.
- You should contact our office once you’ve recieved your sleep study report to schedule a convienient time to review your results with Dr. Hughes. Dependent on your diagnosis and resultant treatment suggestion from the sleep physician, you will then be scheduled accordingly, either with our office in the case of suggested oral sleep therapy or with a qualified sleep center in the case of suggested C-PAP therapy.