Are you one of the approximately ninety million people on this planet who experience occasional snoring? Maybe it’s not you, but someone in your household who has snoring issues. It’s easy to brush it off as a minor annoyance or even comical at times, but snoring can sometimes be an indicator of other, potentially serious, health problems. Read on to discover exactly what snoring is as well as some of the signs that might indicate something a little more serious is going on.
In basic terms, snoring is nothing more than vibrations of your breath moving through narrow airway passages. When we sleep, our muscles tend to relax, which often results in a partially closed airway. For some people, the airway narrows so much that snoring can occur. Other abnormalities, such as a deviated septum, or an unusually large tongue, tonsils, or adenoids can also cause snoring issues, along with something else that most of us will experience several times during our lives—a bad cold or allergies. Breathing through a stuffy nose causes floppy tissue in the upper airway to come together, which results in snoring and probably a lack of quality sleep for the night.
Regular snoring is not necessarily a cause for alarm. Many people who snore are not even aware they are doing it and are also not experiencing any adverse effects. In reality, it is not the snoring itself that is potentially a cause for concern, but rather the issue that is causing the snoring to occur in the first place.
In some cases, when frequent snoring occurs, it can be a symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This is a result of soft muscle tissue that collapses during sleep, obstructing the airway. OSA causes difficulty, or even an inability, to breathe for periods lasting from a few seconds to even a couple of minutes in length. Oxygen levels in the blood decrease and the heart beats faster as a result. Eventually, carbon dioxide levels build and the unfortunate OSA sufferer will wake, gasping for breath.
If your snoring issues are accompanied by headaches when you wake up in the morning, excessive daytime drowsiness, or waking at night with a feeling of choking or gasping for breath, then you might be suffering from this serious condition. Other symptoms of OSA include high blood pressure, memory loss, decreased ability to concentrate, and high blood pressure. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a debilitating condition. You should consult with your physician if you experience any of these symptoms.
There are a variety of methods to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea, including surgery and a medical device known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP. Oral appliances, supplied and fitted by a dentist, are another viable alternative to treat this potentially dangerous condition. A dental appliance also poses much less risk than other treatment alternatives.
Surgery is not usually the first recommeneded option for treating sleep apnea. Not only are there risks with surgery but the patient also must endure a recovery period combined with potentially habit forming pain killers. With adults, surgery can be quite complicated. It can be difficult to determine exactly where the airway becomes blocked. This makes it hard for surgeons to determine where to make alterations or what to remove.
For many people, the use of a CPAP device greatly reduces the symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This machine works by transmitting a steady flow of pressurized air through a tube that runs from the device to a mask fitting over the person’s nose and sometimes also their mouth. The pressurized air helps to keep the airway open, thereby creating better conditions for breathing during sleep.
Oral appliances, obtained from a dental professional, are another viable option to treat sleep apnea associated with snoring issues. Similar to a mouth guard one uses for sports, research shows these appliances are an effective treatment for this condition. They are often less costly, and more portable as well as more comfortable than other options. Essentially, they increase the patient’s quality of life. They are worn during sleep and help to keep the jaw in a forward position. This small adjustment consequently assists in keeping the airway open.
The first step to seeking treatment is to make an appointment with your physician. After a thorough assessment, your doctor should be able to determine the probable cause of your snoring issues. If your doctor suspects Obstructive Sleep Apnea, they will most likely order a sleep study. This will often involve sleeping overnight in a center staffed by sleep disorder professionals that will monitor your sleeping patterns and record the results for your medical professional. Sometimes, this is conducted in your own home with the use of a device, instead.
Once you’re diagnosed with OSA, your physician will consult with you to determine the best possible treatment options for your individual needs. Many people now choose to explore the use of an oral appliance before resorting to other treatment options. An oral appliance can be more comfortable and a less costly alternative to surgery or a CPAP machine. In this case, your doctor would refer you to a qualified dentist, who would be able to recommend the proper dental appliance for you.
If you or a loved one suffers from snoring during sleep, don’t make the mistake of brushing it off as a pesky annoyance, or a bothersome trait you can’t do anything about. Snoring issues can be a symptom of a serious underlying condition. And, with a variety of comfortable and safe treatment options at your disposal, seeking relief has never been easier.
If you want to learn more about using an oral appliance to treat your snoring issues, please contact Mark Levy DDS at (614) 777-7350 today. Our experienced staff can provide a full evaluation and all the information you’ll need to make the best decision for your treatment needs.