Many doctors/physicians consider Sleep apnea a disorder where you experience abnormal breathing patterns while sleeping. People with the condition experience multiple pauses in their breath during their sleep. The temporary pauses in breathing result in low-quality sleep and thus affect your oxygen flow and lead to deadly health consequences, including heart attacks, cardiomyopathy, obesity, stroke, hypertension, arrhythmias, and heart failure.
In La Puente, California, sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder to many people. It affects either children or adults of both sexes, although many cases are reported on men. Due to the disorder's potential health impacts, people need to know what sleep apnea is, the causes, symptoms, types, and possible treatment options. Also, it’s good you discuss with your bed partner and report any signs of the disorder to your doctor.
The Meaning of Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is considered a disorder where your breathing system interferes while sleeping, especially at nighttime. Many people with sleep apnea experience pause in their breathing pattern as they sleep. In many cases, the situation occurs at night. If the condition is left untreated, it might result in several health issues. Also, sleep apnea might result in motor vehicle accidents and work-related accidents.
What are the Forms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea occurs in two primary forms, as discussed below:
The condition occurs as a recurring episode, partial or complete airway blockage as you sleep. The chest and diaphragm muscles work hard during the Apneic episode since the pressure increases to open your airway. Thus the impact will result in reduced oxygen flow to the essential organs and attract heart problems.
Central Sleep Apnea
Under this condition, your airway is unblocked. Thus, the brain fails to signal to breathe due to instability in your respiratory system. The condition relates to the central nervous system. Speak with your physician to determine the type of sleep apnea you suffer.
Common Victims of Sleep Apnea
Around 25% of men suffer from sleep apnea, while around 10% of women suffer the condition. The sickness affects any person without leaving out children and babies and people above 50. Certain clinical features and physical traits are also common in people suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. They include a large neck, structural abnormalities, and excessive weight that reduce your upper airways' diameter like nasal obstruction, enlarged tonsil, small jaw which has an overbite, and a low hanging soft palate.
What are the Causes of Sleep Apnea?
The blockage of your airway causes obstructive apnea. The condition occurs mainly when the tissues in the rear of your throat collapse while you are sleeping. Doctors observe central sleep apnea in patients suffering central nervous system dysfunction like stroke. Also, they may discover the condition in people with neuromuscular disease, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Also, the condition is common in people suffering from heart failure or heart, lungs, and kidney issues. The following are the common causes of sleep apnea:
- Older age
- Anatomical differences
- Neck circumference
- Use of sedatives like alcohol
- Family history
- Sleeping on your back
- Cigarette smoking
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Many sleep apnea symptoms are recognized first by your bed partner. Many of the patients don’t have sleep complaints. You want to inform your health care provider when you see or experience any of the following symptoms and signs:
- Fatigue or daytime sleepiness
- Frequent nighttime awakenings or restlessness during nighttime
- Night sweats
- Cognitive impairment like trouble when concentrating, irritability, or forgetfulness
- Dry mouth
- Mood disturbance(anxiety or depression)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Frequent urination at nighttime
Many patients with central sleep apnea usually report many cases of insomnia or recurrent awakenings, although they also experience gasping or choking sensation after waking. The symptoms in minors/children are not common, and they include:
- Bad/Poor performance at school
- Daytime swallowing difficulties and mouth breathing
- Sleepiness or sluggishness, usually witnessed through laziness while in the classroom
- During inhaling, their rib cage moves inwards
- Excess sweating, especially during nighttime
- Unusual sleeping locations like sleeping on knees or hands or hyper-extended neck.
- Behavioral and learning disorders
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Your physician/doctor will first observe your symptoms before they begin a sleep apnea diagnosis. They will first do the following:
- Ask you whether you take any medication like opioids that might affect your sleep.
- Look for any reasonable causes of sleep apnea.
- Ask you whether you have recently traveled to regions with an altitude above 6,000 feet. The locations tend to have low levels of oxygen, which might attract symptoms of the disease.
After asking you the above questions, your doctor will use various things to help determine whether you have sleep apnea disorder. They will do the following:
The doctor will consider the information you provide to look for the symptoms and signs of the disorder. They will even review the history of your family members to determine whether you are at risk of suffering the same disorder. They will even decide whether or not you have any complications resulting from undiagnosed sleep apnea, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and atrial fibrillation.
The doctor might conduct a physical examination to determine whether you have sleep apnea disorder. They will look for conditions that might place you at risk of sleep apnea, including large tonsils, obesity, and large neck circumference. Also, they may look for the structure and size of your jaw and the position. Again, the doctors will look at your heart, lungs, and even neurological system to determine whether you have any disorder-related.
Another common procedure to diagnose sleep apnea is through conducting a sleep study. The doctor may consider you to undergo sleep studies at home or in a unique facility. The test does the following:
- Identifying any occasion while you are sleeping which relate to symptoms of sleep apnea disorder
- Find the high or low level of activity in your muscle which manages your breathing
- Examining blood oxygen level as you sleep
- Watching your brain and heart action as you rest
The Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
There are various treatment options available for both central and obstructive sleep apnea. Also, you may use lifestyle changes to reduce sleep disorders. The following are the sleep disorders:
Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure Therapy(CPAP)
Apart from seeking lifestyle changes to reduce sleep apnea, you also need to seek treatment for the condition. One of the common types of treatment options for the condition includes continuous positive airflow pressure therapy. The CPAP device involves a machine using an airtight and hose nosepiece or a mask to provide a steady airflow in your airway as you sleep. The pressure in the machine will help keep the airway open and prevent any pauses in your breathing.
Many patients find it difficult to sleep with the CPAP tool. However, they adjust after some time and start sleeping comfortably with them. As a patient with the CPAP device, you will first experience immediate symptoms relief, boost your mental health and even physical energy. Thus use the CPAP devices.
Recently the CPAP technology has significantly advanced and improved and even come up with new CPAP machines which are quieter, lighter, and comfortable for the patients. Thus if they have been frustrating to you in the past, you want to give yourself a second chance and use the new CPAP devices.
It might take some time before you become used to the devices. You will even miss sleeping the old way. However, you might do several things to ensure you quickly adjust to the CPAP devices. The following tips will help you adapt rapidly to the CPAP devices:
- Ensure you properly fix your mask
- Ensure you choose a CPAP device that comes with an inbuilt humidifier
- Reset the device when airflow wakes you
- Ensure you keep the machine clean
What are the Other Air Pressure Breathing Devices
Apart from the CPAP devices, the doctors may suggest you use other sleep treatment apnea to treat the condition. The devices include:
Adaptive servo-ventilation(ASV): The devices are extensively used to treat central apnea and sometimes obstructive apnea. They store details about your breathing pattern. Also, they will automatically prevent pauses in your breathing while you are asleep.
The EPAP: The Expiratory positive airway pressure devices fix over your nostrils and help keep your airway open. They are smaller than the CPAP devices. The EPAP devices highly benefit patients with mild obstructive apnea.
Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure(CPAP or BiPAP); The devices are applied by the patients unable to familiarize themselves with the CPAP. Also, they are good for patients suffering central apnea and require assistance when they have a weak breathing system. The devices automatically adjust the pressure as you sleep and provide much pressure once you breathe in and less pressure when you breathe out. Lastly, the devices will also deliver breath when your mask discovers you haven’t had one for the last seconds.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Another increasing treatment option for sleep apnea is an oral appliance. However, the treatment option isn’t effective like CPAP devices. But they’re a good method when you cannot tolerate CPAP devices since they are more comfortable. Your doctor may choose an oral appliance treatment from various appliances approved to treat sleep apnea. Many appliances are acrylic devices and fit in your mouth more as an athletic mouthguard. Also, they may suit around the chin and head and adjust the location of the lower jaw.
The common oral appliance treatment option for sleep apnea includes Mandibular advancement tools/devices. These are tools or devices used by doctors to treat patients suffering from obstructive apnea. Professional experts can make oral mandibular or dental appliances devices to help prevent your tongue from closing your throat or even advance your lower jaw. A dentist or sleep specialist will jointly determine whether you are the right candidate for the procedure. However, oral appliances come with side effects, including saliva build-up, soreness, damages to the lower jaw, mouth, or teeth. The side effects will be more common when the devices are poorly fixed.
Your doctor may use surgical procedures to treat obstructive apnea. The common surgical procedures done include outpatient procedures. Surgeries are recommended for patients with malformed or excessive tissues obstructing airflow through your throat or nose, like enlarged tonsils, smaller lower jaws, and deviated nasal septum. The doctors will order for the surgery when sleep apnea doesn't respond to conservative measures. The common type of surgeries used to treat sleep apnea include:
Tonsillectomy; It’s a procedure aimed at removing the tonsillar tissue at the back of your throat. It's the leading source of obstruction among children suffering from sleep apnea.
Somnoplasty; This is an invasive procedure that applies radiofrequency energy and reduces your soft tissues in the upper airway.
Maxillary/mandibular advancement surgery; is a surgical correction of throat obstructions or facial abnormalities, which are the leading cause of obstructive apnea.
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is a medical treatment procedure conducted to remove the soft tissues on the back of the throat and increase the airway's width at the throat opening.
Sleep Apnea Implants
Among the newest modes of treating sleep apnea is inserting a pacemaker system to stimulate muscles and keep your airway open for you to breathe during the nighttime. The FDA has approved the newest implant to treat obstructive apnea. Although the technology is expensive and new, many recent studies have suggested treating patients with sleep apnea.
Lifestyle Treatment for Sleep Apnea
When you suffer a mild case of sleep apnea, changing your lifestyle could be a good method to reduce the condition. However, the doctor will guide you on where to start. Even when undergoing medical treatment, lifestyle changes are crucial in reducing central and obstructive sleep apnea and improving your sleep.
When you suffer from sleep apnea disorder and are overweight, losing significant weight will highly benefit you. However, this is not a total cure to the condition, but it will reduce the breathing episodes you encounter, decrease your daytime sleepiness and even reduce your blood pressure.
Sleeping on Your Side
When you have sleep apnea, the worst thing you want to do is sleep on your back because it will cause your tongue, jaw, or any other soft tissue to drop towards the throat and thus narrow the airway. Also, avoid sleeping on your stomach since lying your face down or even twisting your head will obstruct breathing. However, by sleeping on your side, you will keep your airway open. If you find it hard to sleep on your side, you may consider placing a pillow on your bed.
Engage in Exercises
Your regular exercise may reduce your sleeping episodes even when it doesn’t lead to reduced weight. Also, it will give you energy and keep you alert during the daytime. Resistance training, yoga, or aerobic exercise are all good for strengthening airway muscles and improving your breathing,
Avoid Anti-Anxiety Medication, Alcohol, and Other Sedatives
You want to avoid alcohol intake and anti-anxiety medications before you go to bed since they tend to relax the muscles on your throat and hinder your breathing. They include (e.g., Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax), antihistamines (like Claritin and Benadryl), opiates (e.g., Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, morphine), and sleeping pills.
Sleep Apnea in Children
Many children suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. However, you might not easily detect the condition in children. Apart from experiencing snoring, many children with the condition will also experience the following:
- Adjusting strange sleeping positions
- Exhibiting daytime sleepiness
- Suffering from bedwetting
- Declining grades or developing behavioral problems
- Pausing breathing as they sleep, gasp or snort.
Sleep Apnea Complications
If you leave an untreated sleep apnea, it will attract severe medical conditions, which include the following:
Many patients with sleep apnea report incidents of repeatedly waking up. Thus you find it challenging to have healthy and regular sleep. Therefore the condition will result in daytime crankiness and sleepiness. When you experience daytime fatigue, you will more likely fall asleep at your workplace or school, and you may even be involved in accidents.
Sleep apnea disorder may cause you to encounter abnormal results on your liver function tests. In many cases, your liver will show symptoms or signs of scarring.
Issues with Surgery and Medication
Sleep apnea, especially obstructive one, will cause the patient's encounter problems with certain drugs and surgeries since they will more likely have breathing issues.
Heart Problems or High Blood Pressure
When you experience a sudden drop in your blood oxygen level as you sleep, your blood pressure may stress the cardiovascular system. For instance, obstructive apnea may put you at risk of strokes, abnormal heartbeats, and heart attacks.
Contact a La Puente Dentist Near Me
When you leave sleep apnea untreated, it might result in significant consequences, as discussed above. Thus you want to report any signs and symptoms of the disorder to your health care provider. Don’t wait until the situation worsens. At La Puente Advanced Dentistry, our medical experts are ready to help you. We will ensure you receive the proper medication you deserve. Thus call us immediately if you notice any symptoms of the disorder at 626-626-7075 and talk with one of our medical experts. We have helped countless patients seeking sleep apnea medication in La Puente, California.