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The Gift of Healthful Sleep – Recognizing and Treating Sleep Apnea

It’s a pretty short list of the requirements for human life: air, water, food, sleep. Two of these are intimately connected – without healthy breathing (air), sleep is compromised, often to the point of creating serious illness and even death. Poor sleep, which is often driven by sleep apnea, has been linked to several chronic health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia, and others. For children, sleep apnea has been linked through research to ADD/ADHD, bedwetting and lower IQ. 

Sleep apnea can come in three forms: 

  • Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form, occurs when throat muscles relax and constrict the upper airway. 
  • Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t send the right electrical impulses to signal the muscles controlling breathing. 
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome, a relatively rare form, and also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, describes a patient who has both forms of sleep apnea. 

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition that affects one in seven Americans, is a potentially serious breathing disorder, in which sufferers repeatedly and frequently stop breathing while sleeping. Loud or consistent snoring is one of the first signs, and yet many view this key symptom as merely annoying, or even funny. 

While this condition often affects older people, there is solid research showing that children also can be afflicted. Here are some of the other signs and symptoms that you or a loved one might show with OSA: 

The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea 

There are several signs that indicate you might be suffering from OSA: 

  • Loud snoring, generally the prominent symptom in obstructive sleep apnea 
  • Breathing cessation during sleep, often witnessed by a spouse or parent  
  • Sudden awakenings in the night, often accompanied by shortness of breath (can be a signal of central sleep apnea) 
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or a sore throat, or with a morning headache 
  • Difficulty staying asleep; frequent nighttime awakenings 
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness, attention problems and/or irritability 

The first step: make an appointment with your doctor 

If you think you might have any form of sleep apnea or suffer from the symptoms above, see your doctor. While many don’t understand that snoring may be a sign of a potentially serious condition, it’s worth your time to schedule a visit with your doctor. If you or your partner or family member is snoring loudly, or if lack of restful sleep is leaving you or someone you love chronically tired, sleepy during the day and irritable, make an appointment to be screened. 

Treatment 

Because recent research indicates that OSA is often predicated on an underdeveloped upper and lower jaw, most of the current treatments (think CPAP and mandibular repositioning devices) treat only the symptoms of OSA, leading to a lifetime of treatment. However, breakthrough technology from Vivos Therapeutic may be the first viable long-term treatment that addresses a major root cause of sleep apnea. The Vivos System, a set of research-driven clinical protocols, gently enhances and remodels the upper airway over a period of 12 to 24 months, restoring healthy breathing while sleeping, with the potential of no further need for clinical intervention.

The Bottom Line 

Make an appointment with the doctor to discuss sleep apnea for yourself or a loved one if you suspect this condition. You can actually save a life! 

 

 

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Written by Dr. C. Michael Bennett, DDS

Dr. C. Michael Bennett is Double Board Certified in Dental Sleep Medicine and Craniofacial Pain and Director of Vivos Breathing Wellness Center in Orem.

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