What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a condition that occurs when the body has difficulty breathing during sleep. When Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs, the tongue and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat and completely block the airway which restricts the flow of oxygen and causes breathing interruptions. These pauses can last from seconds to minutes and can occur numerous times within an hour. This results in fragmented sleep and lowered levels of oxygen in the blood.
The airway obstruction lasts until the brain partially awakens the sleeper who unconsciously awakens for a gasp of air. Normal breathing eventually resumes, often with loud snoring. The awakenings and oxygen deprivation can trigger health problems such as chronic sleepiness and drowsiness, daytime fatigue, morning headaches, heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke, chronic fatigue, trouble concentration, depression, early on-set of Alzheimer’s, lowered metabolism and testosterone, sudden cardiac death and cancer.
Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that affects up to 10% of the population. The most common form of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which occurs when the difficulty arises from a physical block in the airway rather than a respiratory problem. OSA can occur as hypopnea (abnormally shallow breathing), apnea (a cessation of breathing) or a mixture of both. These disruptions can last up to several minutes, and can occur over 60 times each hour while sleeping. Sleep apnea is fairly widespread: up to 20 million people suffer from OSA. However, 80 to 90% of these sufferers are undiagnosed and untreated. Sleep apnea is more common in men then in women, but becomes more common for both sexes as they get older.
Dr. Pyle at our Weston dental office facilitates sleep testing as well as partner with a patient’s current physician to help determine the most appropriate therapy for the individual.