Obstructive Sleep Apnea has recently been designated as the most under diagnosed medical condition in modern times.

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There is nothing flattering or sexy about snoring. In some cases, the noise level coming from your bed partner can keep you awake all night. You become the victim of second hand snoring, forcing you to endure the fatigue that regularly follows a night of sleep deprivation.

Snoring even causes some couples to sleep in separate rooms, stressing marriages to the max. According to a poll in USA Today, 45 percent of spouses reported that their bed partner snores loudly, yet only 5 percent of their counterparts even admit that they snore. Unfortunately, snoring is much more than an embarrassing nuisance. It may be a sign that you suffer from a serious health condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

Exactly what is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

In OSA, the throat is blocked by the tongue and soft palate during sleep, leading to the inability to breathe. Apnea means a a temporary cessation of airflow has occured. This can happen dozens to hundreds of times per hour. It is the lack of oxygen in the sleep apnea patient that is the primary concern. The frequent cycle is as followed: the brain subconsciously tells the body that it needs oxygen, a person slightly wakes to take a gasp of breath which interrupts needed deep sleep and then a person falls back into a semi-sleep.

There are Long-Term Health Risks More and more studies suggest that OSA could ultimately kill sufferers by gradually damaging their health. This dangerous sleep disorder has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression and dementia, all of which can affect longevity of life. Furthermore, a recent study suggests that sleep apnea patients are at a five times greater risk of developing cancer than those who do not suffer from the disorder. Symptoms of sleep apnea and what to look for: Often the person with sleep apnea is unaware of the problem and will often deny the fact that he/she snores. However, the bed partner will observe: -Loud snoring followed by stoppage of breathing -Gasping and choking during sleep

Sleep apnea symptoms may include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Drowsy driving
  • Awakening feeling not rested in the morning
  • A sour taste in the mouth in the morning
  • Morning headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Limited attention
  • Memory loss
  • Poor judgment
  • Personality changes

Solutions

If you are experiencing common symptoms associated with OPA, a sleep physician or your family physician can help. Generally, you will be asked to do an overnight sleep study at a sleep lab; however, more physicians are now using an at-home sleep study that allows you to be tested in your own bed. This home study test has been proven to be just as reliable in detecting this dangerous condition. If you are positively diagnosed for OPA, you may have a choice for treatment.

Some of the more severe patients receive CPAP treatments, which involve a mask that fits over the nose and/or mouth, connected by hose to a pump that gently blows air into the mouth to help keep the airway open during sleep. For those patients who are diagnosed with mild to moderate OPA or those who are CPAP intolerant can now be treated with an oral appliance provided by a dentist trained in sleep apnea. Now is the time to help your significant other improve their health, get a quality rest at night and live a longer life. It is time for you to get back in the bedroom and get some sleep.

Don't IGNORE the SNORE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Daniel J. Burton is a dentist with over 35 years of patient care in Family - Cosmetic Dentistry and Dental Sleep Apnea.