How Air Obstruction While You Sleep Can Be Fatal

Sleep apnea, also known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a problem that is being increasingly discussed nowadays as more and more studies are done and more is being discovered regarding this potentially fatal syndrome.

Characterized by episodes where a person has obstruction of air for at least ten seconds during sleep, for many sleep apnea may be the root cause of daily fatigue and exhaustion, particularly in more severe cases where the obstruction happens multiple times in a single sleep cycle.

While in the past, this condition was generally linked to obesity, there are in fact many other factors that can lead to sleep apnea. Age (older people are affected more), gender (men are affected more than women), hormonal disorders, alcohol abuse, tobacco and other drug use, genetics, as well as diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, etc., are all common factors to consider.

Increasingly we are discovering that children with adenoid problems and enlarged tonsils develop sleep apnea, impacting their ability to be focused and pay attention during the day. This has also been connected to attention deficit disorder (“ADD”).

In many cases, the initial suspicion that someone has sleep apnea comes from partners or family members who notice what appears to be “excessive snoring” and breathing difficulty at night. The final diagnosis, however, has to be given by a physician through sleep studies and/or imaging.

Thanks to technological (and scientific) developments, modern-day dentists can diagnose and treat sleep apnea using cone beam computed tomography (“CBCT”) and devices manufactured by the dentist.

Once diagnosed, this condition can be treated to eliminate all causal and contributing factors, therefore depending on the case, diet for weight reduction, sinus treatment, surgery for adenoid removal, decrease of alcohol and tobacco consumption may be required in addition to the medical apparatus used to increase the airflow through the airways.

The most commonly known treatment is through the use of a machine called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (“CPAP”). For many, CPAP is not very comfortable nor well tolerated but thankfully there are also a variety of intra-oral devices that are much simpler and effective and can be provided by your dentist.

The most important recommendation I can offer is to pay attention to the possible signs and symptoms and if it is suspected that sleep apnea can be something impacting you, it is essential to seek medical advice right away.

For more information contact Lake Lucerne Dentistry at (407) 410-4489.