Sleep Apnea

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What is Sleep Apnea & Snoring?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.  The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, where the soft tissues and muscles of the throat relax and block the airway. 

This can lead to people not getting enough oxygen or being woken up throughout the night. There are many dangers associated with this disorder including memory loss, high blood pressure, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, depression and more.

Many people with sleep apnea go undiagnosed because the average person does not get screened for this. Dr. Vicki takes part in the screening and treatment of this disorder because she knows it can cause major health problems including diabetes, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, irregular heart beat, and even death. 

One of the primary causes for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) in adults is excess weight, something that can cause throat and tongue tissue to swell. The more relaxed the muscles are, the more likely that this tissue will block an airway.

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Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, but this cannot be used to determine the severity of your condition. With snoring, we usually recommend a more detailed evaluation from a sleep physician, but we can provide options to eliminate or reduce snoring.

Other symptoms of sleep apnea can include:

  • Loud snoring
  • When you stop breathing during sleep — which will be reported by someone else
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)

Not only can snoring affect your health and energy level, but it can also cause a disruptive sleep environment for your partner, making it difficult sometimes to sleep in the same room. Proper management can improve your health and make your sleep mate much happier.

Management of Sleep Apnea and Snoring

The most common ways to manage these conditions is a breathing machine (CPAP), a mouth appliance, or lifestyle changes. 

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, and it’s the most common treatment for sleep apnea. A CPAP helps by providing the user with a continuous supply of pressurized air through an oral or nasal mask, gently opening the airway and preventing snoring by keeping it clear.

A mouth appliance (or Mandibular Advancement Device) is a device that you wear in your mouth like a retainer. It pushes your lower jaw forward, which opens up your airways.

There are a number of lifestyle changes that can help with sleep apnea. Stopping smoking, losing weight if necessary, and getting more exercise are all helpful. Eating less before bed and avoiding alcohol can also make a difference.

We can also provide you with an oral appliance that positions the jaw more favorably for better breathing and to reduce (or eliminate) snoring. When snoring is managed properly, you and your sleep mate will have a better quality of sleep. It is life changing.

A snoring mouthpiece is an effective way to decrease the noise of snoring and stop the vibration of the tissues in your throat. This can prevent your partner from being disturbed by your snoring at night, making it easier for them to sleep in the same room.

The appliance is custom made to fit comfortably in your mouth and we will be able to adjust it until it is perfect for you!

Something else to consider is, if you are already using a CPAP and don’t like it, an oral appliance can often be a great alternative.

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