OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea, is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of individuals across the country. But exactly how common is this potentially deadly disease and who’s at risk of developing it?
Mark Levy DDS regularly works with OSA patients in an effort to provide them the highest quality of treatment for their unique situation. When this disorder is left untreated, it can have potentially lethal consequences. Learn more about how often OSA occurs and who’s at the greatest risk.
OSA is a disorder that causes the patient to stop breathing when sleeping. As you can imagine, this has a series of negative side effects on the body. Not only do blood oxygen levels drop, but the body has to work harder to get the little oxygen it has dispersed to the various systems. This often leads to high blood pressure and heart disease. However, these are just a few of the concerns.
When your body stops breathing while you sleep, your brain wakes you up to get you breathing again. While this is generally a good thing, the sleep disruptions can occur hundreds of times per night. Most of the time the patient is only awake for a brief moment. In fact, it’s so brief that they may not even realize they woke up. However, the disruption is still enough to impact your overall quality of sleep. Overtime, inadequate sleep really wears on your body. It affects your mind and your ability to focus and stay alert. It also causes daytime drowsiness and leads to increased accident rates while driving and during your job.
All of these things accumulate overtime to greatly diminish your quality of health. If you continue to suffer without treatment you’ll begin to take years off your life. The disorder causes so much stress and negative consequences that it can lead to other health problems or even death.
An airway obstruction is the primary cause of OSA. This can mean a number of things. Most commonly, the airway becomes partially or completely obstructed due to a variety of factors. The most common cause for the obstruction is obesity. Added fat along with poor or low muscle tone together create the perfect environment for OSA. In fact, many individuals who suffer from this disorder notice an improvement in their condition once they begin eating better and living a healthier lifestyle. However, there are other issues that can also cause obstruction so it’s best to get evaluated by a sleep specialist.
Illness can also cause the disorder. This is typically the case when it comes to OSA diagnosis in children. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can become a breathing obstruction when the child is asleep and the airway is more relaxed. These tissues can become enlarged due to illness, or even genetics. Genetics can also play a factor in the disorder when it comes to jaw placement, tissue thickness, airway size, and a number of other factors that can lead to the development of the sleeping disorder. People who have a family history of sleeping disorders are also at a greater risk.
However, as mentioned above, being overweight is the leading contributor to this disorder. More than half of the individuals currently diagnosed with OSA are overweight. OSA is also linked to smoking, metabolic disorders, diabetes, and other health concerns.
Overall, more than 20 million Americans are diagnosed with OSA. Countless others are undiagnosed. If you or a loved one suffers from excessive snoring, daytime drowsiness, and other sleep apnea symptoms then speak to your doctor to get on the path to diagnosis and treatment.
There are many treatment options on the market for the various levels of OSA. Your doctor and a sleep specialist will work together to create a treatment plan that works for you. They determine the severity of your OSA by having you undergo a sleep study. During this test, you’re continually monitored in a sleep center. This allows for the tracking of your breath, heartrate, oxygen level, and much more. All of this data is compiled into a report. Then, the sleep specialist and your doctor evaluate the information. If they agree that you do indeed have OSA, you’re diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe.
Different levels of diagnosis result in different treatment options. A CPAP machine is the preferred method of treatment option for most severe cases of sleep apnea. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. This device uses a hose and a mask to blow a steady stream of air through y our airway in order to prevent it from collapsing. This is a highly effective treatment option when used properly. Proper treatment often provides instant results and, over time, can reverse the long term effects of sleep apnea.
Unfortunately, many patients prescribed CPAP therapy stop using the device within the first six months. Without treatment, the symptoms will return. While CPAP therapy is the most effective option on the market, not everyone can comply with the treatment. Thankfully, there are alternatives for those who suffer from mild to moderate OSA.
Customized dental appliances are one of the most popular alternatives to CPAP therapy. This appliance helps support the soft tissue at the back of the mouth that tends to collapse and block the airway. A dentist certified as a sleep disorder specialist, such as Mark Levy DDS, can design the device for you.
Many people with mild to moderate OSA are choosing this new treatment option if it works with their specific case of the sleeping disorder. The compliance rate for dental appliances is much higher than CPAP therapy. This is due to the comfort and portability of the dental device.
OSA may be a very common problem, but the common therapy doesn’t work for every patient. If CPAP therapy isn’t working for you, consult with your local dentist certified in treating sleep disorders. The best treatment is a treatment you’ll follow.