What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that blocks your airway while you sleep, cutting off your flow of oxygen and causing you to wake up every time you stop breathing. This pattern can repeat anywhere from five to fifty times per hour, preventing you from enjoying the quality rest you need.
Since it interrupts your breathing, OSA also causes you to snore loudly or gasp for breath while you sleep. If you share your bed with a partner, this can be extremely disruptive to their sleep and lead to tension in your relationship.
There are many factors that can increase your risk for developing sleep apnea, including if you are:
- Over age 40
- Have a large neck
- Use alcohol or sedatives/tranquilizers
Treatments and CPAP Alternatives
If you’re diagnosed with OSA by a qualified sleep specialist, the first treatment typically prescribed is a CPAP mask. Worn while you sleep, this device pumps a continuous stream of pressurized air into your lungs, keeping your airway open and preventing you from snoring.
Though CPAP treatment is effective, patients frequently stop using the device because it’s bulky, loud, and uncomfortable. It’s also extremely inconvenient to travel with, leaving many patients eager to find an alternative.
Thankfully, Dr. Kruger can provide the convenient solution you’re looking for with a customized oral appliance. Known as a mandibular advancement device (MAD), these appliances gently shift your lower jaw forward as you sleep, preventing your airway from collapsing and allowing you to breathe comfortably.
Unlike a CPAP mask, MADs are small, portable, comfortable, and convenient. For many previous CPAP patients, an oral appliance offers much-needed relief, finally allowing you to sleep soundly through the night.
Consequences of Sleep Apnea
Without treatment, sleep apnea can result in significant consequences for your health. Some of these include:
- Heart attacks/heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Mood swings/irritability
- Short attention span/memory issues
- Chronic headaches
Sleep apnea can also increase your risk for death by automobile accident if you fall asleep at the wheel.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the warning signs of sleep apnea?
If you notice the following symptoms, you may want to undergo a sleep test for sleep apnea:
- Loud and/or frequent snoring
- Morning headaches
- Daytime fatigue
- Pauses in breathing during sleep
- Gasping for breath at night
- Difficulty concentrating
In the case of these symptoms, we highly recommend seeking a diagnosis. If you have sleep apnea, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Our experienced dentists can provide individualized care that can help you sleep better and feel energized.
What causes sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction in the throat while you’re sleeping. There are many reasons why this may occur, but it’s common if there’s excess tissue in the throat. When you fall asleep, the muscles in your throat relax and the tissue can block your ability to breathe.
You’re more likely to have sleep apnea if you’re overweight, as you grow older, if you smoke, or have a thicker neck. While sleep apnea affects people from all walks of life, knowing if you’re at higher risk can help you determine if there may be an issue.
What happens with untreated sleep apnea?
Untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious health conditions and you may be putting your life at risk. Sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart problems, type 2 diabetes, liver problems, relationship issues, and excessive fatigue during the day.
The longer you go without treatment, the more likely you are to develop problems. That’s why we recommend seeking a diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Treatment can help you feel better immediately and prevent complications from developing.
What sleep position is best for sleep apnea?
If you have sleep apnea, it’s best to learn to sleep on your side rather than on your back. You’re more likely to have difficulty breathing if you lay on your back because your airway is more easily obstructed. Training yourself to sleep on your side can help improve your sleep apnea symptoms.
Visit Dr. Kruger for Customized Oral Appliances
If you have sleep apnea and you’re looking for an alternative to CPAP, an MAD is the perfect solution. Contact our practice today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Kruger. We feature two office locations, in Oelwein and West Union, for your convenience.
Rest assured, Dr. Kruger will help you get the restorative rest you deserve.