Sleep Apnea is a potentially serious disease where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain to wake you up to restart normal breathing. Because the period of time you spent awake is so short, you may not even remember waking up at all.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive: Partial or complete blockage of the airway during sleep
- Central: The brain fails to signal the muscles involved in breathing
- Mixed: Combination of obstructive and central
Dr. Derrico and his team have advanced training in all aspects of treating obstructive sleep apnea with a mandibular advancement appliance (MAD). It looks similar to a nightguard, but works to keep the lower jaw in a forward position to increase the space between the airway passages.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
Snoring is the first indications of an obstruction in the airway and is one of the most obvious signs of OSA. Choking or gasping sounds may also occur when someone is truly obstructed then breaks through to regain breathing. Other symptoms include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness due to the frequent interruptions in sleep
- Morning headaches due to reduced oxygen in the blood
- Restless sleep
What can lead to sleep apnea?
A person's weight is a direct correlation to OSA. Overweight or obese people are more likely to have OSA. However, many non-overweight people also have sleep apnea. Several other things contribute to the development of OSA, including:
- Age, especially men and women over age 40
- Smoking, which causes inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway
- Frequent alcohol use
- Natural causes, such as genetics or the anatomical architecture of airway
Is sleep apnea dangerous?
Sleep apnea, like any other serious medical condition, can be dangerous if not treated properly. Patients who do not treat their sleep apnea have a higher risk of developing increased blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, dementia, Alzheimer disease, and cancer.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
During your comprehensive sleep apnea screening at our Lisle dental office, Dr. Derrico will provide an initial sleep consultation, and if indicated, send you home with a compact watch-like pulse oximeter which will record your blood oxygen saturation and heart rate through the night. After Dr. Derrico reviews the downloaded information of your recorded nights' sleep he will schedule a consult with you to discuss his findings. Based on your results, Dr. Derrico may refer you to a sleep center where a sleep physician can provide further test and diagnoses.