Sleep evaluation helps your doctor determine what problems you may have while you’re asleep. Sleeping disorders affect millions of Americans and many cases go undiagnosed. Sleeping disorders have a negative effect on your life if not properly treated. They can result in dangerous health problems such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and even death. If you have an untreated sleeping disorder you become a danger yourself. The lack of proper sleep can impact how you function in your day to day activities. You could be putting people at risk while you’re at your job or while you’re driving if you’re suffering from excessive tiredness, lack of focus, and other common sleep disorder symptoms.
Mark Levy DDS and his staff help treat hundreds of patients suffering from sleeping disorders. We want all of our patients to live a long and happy life. The first step to diagnosing your sleep disorder is to undergo sleep evaluation.
There are a number of ways to conduct sleep evaluation. The first thing that you’ll want to do is talk to your doctor. They’ll likely have you keep a sleep diary to document the problems that you’re having. The STOP BANG Screening Questionnaire evaluates people who may have obstructive sleep apnea. This form of sleep apnea is one of the most common sleeping disorders affecting Americans.
Along with screening measures you may be asked to participate in a sleep study. This is a fantastic sleep evaluation tool that helps collect a variety of important data. The collected data is compiled and provided to your doctor or a sleep specialist for review. This typically includes heart rate, oxygen levels, breathing, sleeping habits, and much more. A sleep study helps your doctor diagnose your condition. This type of sleep evaluation also helps them see the extent of your condition to determine the appropriate treatment plan.
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, occurs when your airway becomes partially or completely blocked while you sleep. This often results in excessive snoring, gasping for air, waking with headaches, waking with a sore throat, and daytime drowsiness. Most people with OSA don’t realize they have the disorder until their partner brings attention to their symptoms. This is because of the nature of the disorder. When your breathing becomes obstructed your body wakes you up. However, you are awake for such a brief time that many people don’t recall waking up. This sleeping disorder doesn’t allow your body to rest adequately. It also results in a lower blood oxygen level.
Obstructive sleep apnea not only prevents your body from getting the sleep it needs, but also the oxygen it relies on. This dangerous combination has been shown to have a major impact on the heart and brain. When treated, the symptoms and problems associated with OSA frequently reverse. However, untreated OSA puts you at a great risk for developing worsening symptoms that can lead to problems affecting your heart and brain.
If you or your partner think that you may have obstructive sleep apnea, it’s important to talk to your doctor about sleep evaluation right away. Early detection and treatment is the best course of action. The National Sleep Foundation discusses the STOP BANG Screening Questionnaire:
The STOP BANG Screening questionnaire assesses people for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The acronym spells out the tool’s eight questions, which assess the person’s: Snoring, Tiredness, Observation of stopping breathing, high blood Pressure, Body mass index, Age, Neck size, and Gender. Based on age and Body Mass Index (BMI), a higher score indicates a greater likelihood the person has OSA.
According to the website for the STOP BANG screening questionnaire:
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most prevalent sleep=breathing disturbance, affecting 24% of men and 9% of women, in the general population. An estimated 82% of men and 92% of women with moderate to severe OSA have not been diagnosed.
This is frightening information considering how dangerous this condition is to patients who suffer from the disorder and those around them. If all of these individuals participated in the STOP BANG screening questionnaire for obstructive sleep apnea then they could see that they have a problem. They would then be able to undergo more intensive sleep evaluation to get proper treatment. This could save thousands of lives each year by reducing accidents and improving heart and brain health. According to the website, symptoms for OSA include:
Repetitive obstruction of the upper airway often resulting in oxygen desaturation and arousals from sleep
Excessive daytime sleepiness
They continue on to discuss the dangerous health issues associated with obstructive sleep apnea:
OSA is a serious condition that diminishes quality of life and is also associated with many common comorbid conditions. Studies have shown that patients with OSA will have an increased incidence of:
Coronary artery diseases
Congestive heart failure
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Obstructive sleep apnea is so hard on your body that the typical lifespan of someone suffering from untreated OSA is less than 60 years. That’s a lifespan below average of at least 18 years for men and 23 years for women. So many deaths can be prevented with the many treatment options available for OSA.
There are a variety of treatment options available for people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Treatment typically varies upon the severity of the case along with the cause of the obstruction. Many people respond well to lifestyle changes. Oral appliances and breathing devices are also common treatment options. Surgery is necessary in some cases. And many people have a treatment plan that combines several of these treatment options.
When treating sleep apnea there are three primary goals. The first and foremost goal is to restore normal breathing while sleeping. The second goal is to relieve daytime drowsiness and sleep apnea symptoms such as snoring. And the third goal is to decrease the risk of developing additional medical conditions. When the first goal is accomplished, the second and third goals are typically reached as well. Normal breathing during sleep promotes better sleep. This in turn reduces symptoms of sleep apnea along with daytime drowsiness. People feel better and are less of a danger on the road or at the workplace. Normal breathing while sleeping also means that your body doesn’t have to struggle for the oxygen it needs. Receiving adequate amounts of oxygen and rest help to decrease the likelihood of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and even diabetes.
There are a number of lifestyle changes that can be made to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of sleep apnea. Many people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are overweight. Eating well and exercising regularly can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Many people show an improvement in symptoms with weight loss.
Other lifestyle changes that can help reduce the occurrence of sleep apnea include sleeping on your side instead of your back. It’s much easier for your airway to become obstructed when sleeping on your back. If you try to sleep on your side and are unsuccessful there are things you can do to help. Special pillows and shirts are designed to help keep you on your side while you sleep. You can even create your own by sewing a tennis ball into the back of your pajamas. This way, when you try to roll over in your sleep, it will be uncomfortable and you will go back onto your side or wake up.
Another lifestyle change is to limit or avoid alcohol and sedatives. Both of these things make it easier for your airway to collapse while you are sleeping. Some doctors also recommend that you stop smoking and avoid large meals prior to bed time.
One of the most common treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea is a breathing device called a CPAP machine. Using a mask that covers your mouth and nose, a CPAP machine, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, gently blows air into your airway to prevent it from collapsing. This treatment option isn’t a cure, but while it is being used it does eliminate sleep apnea occurrences and symptoms. A sleep evaluation study helps determine the optimal settings for your condition.
Specially trained dentists are able to fit you with a mouthpiece designed to reduce or eliminate sleep apnea occurrences.
These mouthpieces support the jaw and tongue to keep your airway open as you sleep. They tend to be favored over the CPAP machine because they are much less cumbersome and easier to sleep with. However, not every case of sleep apnea can be treated with these mouthpieces.
If you are interested in using a mouthpiece to treat your obstructive sleep apnea then speak with a qualified dentist. They will examine your case and discuss the options that will be best for your sleeping disorder.