Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that is not known to a lot of people. Most of them either don’t notice it or ignore it to be just some minor health issue that would die down with time. But that isn’t true. The longer you leave sleep apnea untreated, it would increase in severity and eventually lead to other health issues. Hence, it is vital to get sleep apnea treated at the earliest!
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Sleep Apnea is mainly of two types, namely Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). OSA occurs due to the collapse of tissues from the roof of the throat, which blocks the airway. CSA, on the other hand, occurs due to untimely sensory signals sent from the brain that control the respiratory actions. Though both disorders have similar symptoms, OSA is known to have more severe ones.
What causes OSA?
The muscles and other soft tissues of the body relax when a person sleeps. This means they loosen up and become quite flexible during sleep, which the patient wouldn’t be aware of. The muscles of the throat also relax and loosen up when the patient sleeps. This development leads to shrinking in the opening of the airway, which leads to resonance and snoring. Over a while, the soft tissues of the throat would become sore and loosen excessively, due to which the roof of the throat could suddenly collapse. This completely blocks the airway and deprives the patient of the oxygen supply to the lungs. The resultant would be the patient waking up, gasping for air, and feeling quite traumatized.
Why is OSA considered to be so serious?
OSA leads to several symptoms that affect the overall health of a person. Some of them are as follows:
- The intensity of snoring will worsen with time when a patient suffers from sleep apnea. The patient would often wake up with a bad headache and a sore throat.
- Due to partial blockage of the throat, the patient will experience short pauses in breathing during sleep. This stops them from exploring the deeper stages of sleep, which naturally reduces the quality of their sleep.
- Many patients with sleep apnea complain of hypersensitivity in their teeth, worn out tooth surfaces, pain in the jaws, TMD, etc. This is due to a condition called bruxism. It is a symptom of sleep apnea where patients subconsciously grind their teeth.
- Due to lack of sleep, patients usually tend to doze off during the daytime. This could be combined with fatigue, lower tolerance levels, and elevated stress levels.
- Most importantly, waking up suddenly in the middle of sleep feeling choked would be quite disturbing for anyone. It not only affects you but your bedmate as well and can leave you in a state of shock.
How is sleep apnea treated?
A sleep test would be conducted by a sleep specialist to determine the underlying causes of the disorder. Based on the observations, a customized treatment plan would be drawn out. In most cases, an oral appliance such as a snore guard or a mandibular advancement device would suffice. They are used to widen the opening to the airway. They can also prevent the collapse of the tissues from the roof of the throat. If the condition is worse, a CPAP device may be suggested to maintain positive air pressure in the airway.
Please schedule an appointment online or call us at (435) 645-8500 to have a consultation with Dr. Kimche, and we will be happy to help.