Do you snore? Not only is snoring a nuisance to you and your bed partner, it is often an indication of a life-threatening health condition called Sleep Apnea.
Sleep Apnea Treatment In Skokie, IL
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition that causes stoppage of breathing (apnea) that lasts for several seconds to minutes, and can occur five to 30 times per hour or more. Obstruction of the airway can be caused by the shape of the palate and throat, as well as enlarged tonsils, tongue and uvula. Relaxation of the airway muscles and the position of the jaw during sleep can exacerbate the problem. The apneas, and subsequent decreased oxygen saturation in the blood, cause the brain to stimulate awakening in order to resume breathing. This cycle is repeated many times during the night.
Health Consequences of OSA
While the most obvious consequence of Sleep Apnea might be exhaustion due to the inability to get a decent night's sleep (including the inability to move through all the beneficial cycles of sleep), the implications can be much more severe, with increased risk for:
- Heart Attack
- Irregular Heartbeat (Arrhythmia)
OSA is fairly common, with one in five adults experiencing mild sleep apnea and one in 15 having moderate or severe apnea. Many patients are often unaware of their own symptoms and are alerted to the problem by a bed partner. Others are experiencing a negative impact on their quality of life.
Do You Have Sleep Apnea?
If you have any of the following symptoms you should explore the possibility that you have sleep apnea.
- Snoring/Gasping or Choking
- Cessation of Breathing (Apnea)
- Inability to Focus/Poor Judgment
- Irritability, Depression, Memory Loss
- Morning Headaches
- Weight Gain
- Frequent Awakening (including bathroom trips)
If you are experiencing symptoms, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. A complete examination and history by your physician or dentist is the place to start. If OSA is suspected, you will be referred to a sleep center for an overnight Polysomnogram, which will give a definitive diagnosis. Once you have a diagnosis you can pursue treatment.
Behavior Modification: Some patients with mild sleep apnea are able to alleviate their symptoms with lifestyle changes such as weight loss, sleeping on their side and avoiding heavy meals and alcohol two hours before bedtime.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (C-PAP): This treatment, which is effective for mild to severe apnea, maintains the airway by providing a constant flow of pressured air via a mask that fits over the nose.
Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT): Also, known as Mandibular Advancement Devices, these appliances maintain an open airway by keeping the lower jaw in a forward position. Due to the wide variety of appliances on the market and possible side effects, Oral Appliances should be chosen and fabricated by a dentist experienced in dental sleep medicine. Dr. Shorr is one of only several hundred dentists in the United States that is board certified by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. She devotes a significant part of her time to treating snoring and sleep apnea patients with oral appliances.
Surgery: For patients who are unsuccessful with the above treatment modalities, various surgical procedures aimed at enlarging the airway or preventing collapse of the airway during sleep are available.