sleep apnea treatment

  • What Is Sleep Apnea?

    Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired, even after a full night’s sleep, you may have sleep apnea.

    Woman with Sleep Apnea Snoring

    There are two types of sleep apnea:

    Obstructive Sleep Apnea

    The more common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs when the throat muscles relax. It is an anatomical and neurological problem. During sleep, your airway collapses and blocks air from passing through. Some sleep apnea patients may gasp, snore or choke. Some are completely silent. Not all people who have sleep apnea snore. Not all people who snore have sleep apnea.

    Central Sleep Apnea

    The lesser common form of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, occurs when the brain fails to send important signals to the breathing muscles during sleep. Your body essentially “forgets to breathe”.

    What are the effects?

    This roller coaster sleep pattern leads to a loss of energy, concentration, productivity and an inability to stay awake during less active tasks. This may include reading, watching television and driving. In severe cases, the continuous oxygen deprivation caused by sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and even sudden death. There may be a genetic component to this disorder as it often occurs within families.

    Can Sleep Apnea Be Resolved

    Generally, in cases of very mild sleep apnea, symptoms have been resolved with weight loss, a reduction of alcohol intake, or a change in sleep position. Sleep experts suggest that most people with sleep apnea should not sleep on their backs, but instead on their left side.

    In more serious cases, oral appliance therapy which repositions the lower jaw and the tongue are very helpful to many patients and also those whose only problem is disruptive snoring. These devices gently keep your jaw forward during sleep to open your airway. For the vast majority of patients, the oral appliances are far more comfortable than CPAP therapy. In fact, experience shows that 83% of patients who try oral appliance therapy sleep comfortably for an average of almost 7 hours per night.

    CPAP machines offer continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) through a mask. Although this treatment helps many people, some cannot tolerate this method and may benefit from oral devices.

    Many people benefit from combination therapy; the use of an oral appliance and the CPAP machine.

    Seeking Treatment

    We recommend you seek treatment from an American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine Diplomate. Diagnosing sleep apnea currently involves a physician prescribed sleep test. These tests can be performed at home or at a sleep lab.  For more information on sleep apnea and resources, you can visit American Alliance for Healthy Sleep, 2510 North Frontage Road
    Darien, IL 60561 or National Sleep Foundation, 1367 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036

  • Does Sleep Apnea Worsen In the Winter?

    Will my sleep apnea worsen in the winter?

    Sleep apnea is a health issue that often goes undiagnosed. Symptoms include snoring loudly and gasping for air often throughout the night. This is especially true during winter months when sleep apnea can worsen.

    This article will explain more about sleep apnea, effective treatments, and why cold weather may make your symptoms worse.

    What is sleep apnea?

    Sleep apnea is a common yet serious sleep disorder that’s characterized by pauses in breathing while you sleep. This can happen repeatedly, and you may not even be aware of it since you probably don’t fully awaken when this occurs.

    During sleep, your airway collapses and blocks air from passing through. Some sleep apnea patients may gasp, snore or choke. Some are completely silent. Not all people who have sleep apnea snore. Not all people who snore have sleep apnea.

    Anyone can have sleep apnea – even children. If you are male, overweight and/or over the age of 40, you’re at a higher risk. You can also have an increased risk if you have nasal congestion or obstruction caused by issues such as a deviated septum or allergies.

    What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

    The most obvious symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring, gasping, or choking sounds during sleep and feelings of extreme sleepiness during the day. However, symptoms can may also include the following:

    • A sore or dry throat when you wake up
    • Morning headaches
    • Trouble falling asleep
    • Awakening frequently at night
    • Restless sleep
    • Problems with concentration
    • Learning and memory problems
    • Moodiness and irritability
    • Depression
    • Irregular heartbeat

    Does sleep apnea get worse in the winter?

    An extensive, long-term study conducted in a sleep clinic in Brazil indicates that sleep apnea can get worse during winter months. Researchers looked at sleep study information for more than 7,500 patients over a 10-year period.

    Patients in winter months had more nighttime stoppages in breathing when compared to patients who sought treatment in warmer months. Patients stopped breathing 18 times an hour on average in colder months compared to 15 times an hour in warmer months. In addition, 34 percent of patients who sought treatment in cold weather had severe sleep apnea, while only 28 percent of patients in warmer weather did.

    The difference could be due to a variety of reasons;

    • Winter-related illnesses can affect the upper airway, making sleep apnea symptoms worse.
    • Breathing in smoke from burning wood in fireplaces can worsen symptoms.
    • During the winter months, the air is much drier which can irritate air passages, thus increasing the frequency of sleep apnea related episodes.

    Where can I find treatment for my sleep apnea?

    The doctors at Sleep Apnea Dentists of New England have extensive experience in helping patients with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Dr Vicki Cohn, DDS, D.ABDSM, is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, the highest distinction in Dental Sleep Medicine. She is committed to assisting with the underlying causes of sleep apnea and providing effective sleep apnea treatments.

    If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with us today. We’ll work with you to find sleep apnea treatments that will help you sleep better, feel better, and improve your overall health.

  • Sleep Apnea Treatment Linked with Lower Health Care Costs

    Original Post | SleepReviewMagazine, Published on October 15, 2019

    Piggy Bank showing cost savings from treatment of sleep apnea

    Treating patients with moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea with positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is associated with reduced acute care visits and health care expenditures, according to a recent study.

    Every one-hour increase in PAP usage per night was associated with an 8% decrease in inpatient visits (rate ratio 0.92) and a 4% decrease in overall acute care visits (RR 0.96). PAP adherence also was associated with a significantly lower number of emergency department visits and inpatient stays, and increasing PAP usage was associated with a lower likelihood of having positive costs from these visits. Among patients with emergency department costs, PAP adherence was associated with 27% lower costs.

    “While it’s not surprising that treatment of moderate or severe sleep apnea is good for overall health, the fact that PAP treatment in a relatively short time frame was associated with an impact of this significance was unexpected,” says lead author Douglas B. Kirsch, MD, American Academy of Sleep Medicine president, medical director of sleep medicine at Atrium Health in Charlotte, NC, and clinical professor in the Department of Medicine at UNC School of Medicine, in a release. “In addition, while many older research trials suggested patients were not often adherent to PAP therapy, this study of more than 1,000 patients suggests that with appropriate education and support, a significant majority of patients are likely to use PAP therapy in an effective manner.”

    The study was published in the Sept 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

    The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study of adult patients who initiated PAP therapy after a diagnosis of moderate or severe sleep apnea at a large integrated health system between 2014-2016. The study consisted of 1,098 patients (average age 55.7 years, 66.3% male) who had at least 18 months of available data after PAP therapy was initiated. Treatment adherence was defined as using PAP more than four hours per night for at least 70 percent of the studied nights.

    Results show that 60% of the study population was adherent to PAP therapy, and the overall average percentage of nights with PAP usage of more than four hours was nearly 70%. The average use on nights when PAP was used was 6.4 hours per night, and the average use on all nights was 5.3 hours.

    “Patients, clinicians and health systems should recognize that effective treatment of sleep apnea is valuable in both an individual’s health and as a mechanism to keep overall medical costs lower for the patient and the health system,” says Kirsch. “This study suggests that a significant majority of patients not only tolerate but are adherent to therapy over an 18-month time frame when given effective education and support.”