According to the Sleepapnea.org, it’s estimated that 22 million people in the United States have sleep apnea. Even more alarming is that approximately 80% of cases of moderate-to-severe sleep apnea are thought to be undiagnosed. The reason for this alarm is that sleep apnea is a problem that extends far beyond simply snoring and can affect other areas of your health, including your heart and metabolic health.
Behind sleep apnea
There are two main types of sleep apnea — central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Far and away, the more common type of this sleep disorder is OSA, which we’re going to focus on here.
When you have OSA, soft tissues at the back of your throat collapse while you sleep, blocking your airways and your ability to breathe. When your brain registers this inability, it rouses you just enough so that you can clear your throat and breathe easier again. In other words, you may not be aware this is happening, but we can assure you that your bed partner likely is.
If this happened once or twice, there likely wouldn’t be any issues, but people with moderate-to-severe OSA develop this airway collapse frequently throughout the night — sometimes dozens of times per hour.
The complications of sleep apnea
One of the direct complications of OSA is a lack of restorative sleep, which can lead to daytime sleepiness and fatigue. It’s hard to overstate the importance of restorative sleep, as your body uses this time to reset itself, balance hormones, and create memories.
When you’re not getting the restful sleep you need, it can indirectly put you at a greater risk for a wide range of potentially serious health issues, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
As we mentioned earlier, when you sleep, your brain uses this time to create memories as it sorts through the day’s happenings and files away information. If you’re not getting restorative sleep due to OSA, you may also have difficulty remembering things.
Treating sleep apnea
If you want to avoid the complications that can stem from sleep apnea, our first order of business is to help you breathe easier during the night. To do this, we offer oral appliances, including the mandibular advancement device and the tongue stabilizing device.
Mandibular advancement device
This device gently pulls your lower jaw forward while you sleep, which prevents the soft tissues at the back of your throat from collapsing.
Tongue stabilizing device
This device holds your tongue down while you sleep so that it doesn’t slip backward and block your airways.
Both of these devices are customized to fit your mouth. Unlike breathing machines, they’re more portable and easier to use.
If you want to protect your health by treating your sleep apnea, please contact us today to make an appointment at our office in Plano, Texas.