Friday, March 28, 2014

Sleep Apnea: How Does the Airway Become Blocked?

The director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Sleep Surgery division is researching the efficacy of an implantable electrode system – similar to a pacemaker – that stimulates the tongue during sleep to combat blockage of the airway. Obstruction of the airway can lead to sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition where breathing is interrupted during sleep.

When normal breathing stops during sleep, it can lead to a number of negative health consequences, including decreased oxygen flow to crucial parts of the body, disturbances to regular heart rhythm, and inability to get a good night’s rest, to name a few.

These debilitating effects can stem from blockage in the airway that hinders the proper flow of breath. The tongue, as well as these other structures in the body, can become too relaxed during sleep and obstruct the airway:

  • Soft palate tissue at the back of the mouth
  • Uvula
  • Tonsils
  • Adenoids
  • Muscles or soft tissue in the throat
After determining what’s causing your sleep apnea, a qualified physician can recommend treatment options to keep your airway clear during sleep. Though upper airway stimulation systems like the ones being researched at the University of Pittsburgh are still in the initial phases, there are also a number of existing sleep apnea treatments that could help you breathe more easily during sleep and preserve your health and rest.

If you believe you’re suffering from sleep apnea, please contact a local sleep doctor or call 1-866-727-6275 (1-8-NO-PAP-MASK) today to begin exploring treatment options.

Friday, March 21, 2014

How Severe Is My Snoring?

We’ve all heard the expression “sawing logs,” but does it actually sound like you’re using power tools in your bedroom when you go to sleep at night? If so, you might be suffering from severe snoring, which could in turn be a sign that you’re experiencing the symptoms of sleep apnea. 

Though snoring loudly might bother your spouse, roommates, or anybody you share a home with, sleep apnea could pose a very serious risk to your health. Sleep apnea patients suffer lapses in breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times a night. Snoring and waking up with a start to catch your breath are some of the earliest symptoms, while over time this sleep disorder can increase your risk of obesity, depression, heart attack, and other major health concerns.

If somebody who sleeps nearby tells you that you snore, a sleep physician can determine if it’s indicative of sleep apnea. There are three different “grades” of snoring:

  • Grade 1: Snoring is irregular and comparatively quiet; no effect on patient’s breathing during sleep
  • Grade 2: Snoring occurs at least three nights a week and can become loud; airway does slightly narrow, meaning patient could experience some breathing difficulties
  • Grade 3: Snoring occurs nightly and is extremely loud; breathing could be interrupted or even stop for brief periods of time during sleep
Patients who snore heavily and suffer from symptoms like daytime fatigue, headaches when waking up, and memory difficulties could be experiencing sleep apnea. To find out more about this disorder and prospective treatment options, please contact a sleep doctor in your area or call 1-877-727-6275 (1-8-NO-PAP-MASK) today.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sleep Apnea Treatment with an Oral Appliance

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the body’s airway is blocked during sleep, causing harmful interruptions to regular breathing. Though there are many different sleep apnea treatments available, one of the most effective might be a device that compensates for features that can narrow the airway.

An oral appliance, sometimes called an orthotic, resembles a mouth guard you might wear while playing sports. The device will be customized to fit your bite, and it can serve multiple purposes, from properly aligning your teeth and jaw for optimal appearance and function to protecting your teeth from habitual grinding.

When used to treat sleep apnea, your orthotic will stabilize the tongue, throat, and soft tissue to alleviate snoring and facilitate easier breathing. Keeping the airway open and breathing consistent can prevent sleep apnea from interrupting your rest and reduce your risk for serious health issues like diabetes, hypertension, and others frequently tied to the disorder.

For some patients, an oral appliance might have advantages over other sleep apnea treatments:

·         Addressing the root cause of airway obstruction better than medication
·         More user-friendly and more comfortable than the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device often prescribed to sleep apnea patients
·         Non-invasive and less intensive than surgical procedures to alter or remove soft tissue that could be blocking the airway

If a loved one or roommate complains that you’re snoring, or you find yourself waking up during the middle of the night gasping for breath, you might be experiencing sleep apnea. To begin exploring treatment options, please contact an established local sleep physician or call 1-866-727-6275 (1-8-NO-PAP-Mask) today.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Do You Know the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

A recent column by a Kansas-based pulmonary specialist in The Wichita Eagle reports that an estimated 13 percent of men and 6 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 70 experience some degree of sleep apnea. If you believe you or a loved one suffers from this harmful sleep disorder, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea and know when to seek treatment.

Sleep apnea is characterized by intermittent to regular breathing cessation during sleep. When breathing stops, the amount of oxygen in the blood decreases. Short-term, apnea can interrupt your ability to get a good night’s rest; long-term, this disorder increases your risk of cardiovascular problems, obesity, depression, and other serious illnesses.

Despite the dangers if left untreated, there are early signs and symptoms of the disorder that could indicate you’re suffering from sleep apnea. These symptoms include:

·         Loud, heavy snoring
·         Waking from sleep during the night choking or gasping for breath
·         Feelings of fatigue when waking up and throughout the day
·         Headaches in the morning
·         Weight gain
·         Difficulty thinking or remembering

If you suffer from symptoms like these, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. To find out more about sleep apnea symptoms and possible treatments for the disorder, please contact a sleep doctor in your area or call 1-866-727-6275 (1-8-NO-PAP-MASK) today.