What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which there are brief periods during sleep in which your airway relaxes and you do not get enough air to your lungs. Sleep Apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition and is far more common than generally understood.
What Are The Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Often, the patient is not the one who complains to the physician about sleep apnea, but rather the bed partner. This is because sleep apnea is most often associated with such loud snoring and evident pauses in breathing that it annoys and/or frightens the spouse. Symptoms include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (falling asleep easily & sometimes inappropriately)
- Morning headaches
- History of high blood pressure
- Memory problems or poor judgment
- Feelings of depression
- Gastro-esophageal reflux (heartburn)
- Nocturia (frequent night time urination)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Personality changes or irritability
What Makes Sleep Apnea Dangerous?
When breathing stops, oxygen levels in the blood drops and causes a strain on the heart and lungs. Fortunately, when the brain notices this drop, it sends a fight or flight signal to the body that there is trouble and a strong signal to resume breathing occurs. This action causes a brief but often unnoticeable arousal from sleep. Because of these disruptions, the body is not able to go into the deeper stages of sleep which include REM sleep where dreaming occurs and Delta Sleep which is Restorative sleep. The result is that the sufferer will wake up the next day still feeling tired, and may experience morning headaches as a result of the decreased oxygen.
Are There Other Consequences?
The most immediate effect of sleep apnea is the daytime fatigue and risk of falling asleep at work or while driving. Other potential effects of sleep apnea include serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes and stroke. It can also lead to depression, irritability, sexual dysfunction, learning and memory difficulties. Studies show that up to 50 percent of sleep apnea sufferers have high blood pressure. Studies show that up to 70% of sleep apnea sufferers have diabetes.
How Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
In the past, OSA was diagnosed by spending a night in facility based sleep lab, called a polysomnography or PSG. A PSG records multiple biophysiological signals throughout the night after sensors have been applied over much of the body. We can now determine if you have sleep apnea symptoms by asking you a series of sleep related questions. Based on the score of these questions, we can order a Home Sleep Test or HST. The advantage of this is that you are being recorded in your own bed, so it is more likely to reflect what actually happens each night. It is also significantly less expensive and more convenient
Home Sleep Testing Benefits
Many people find it difficult to sleep in new places, let alone covered in electrodes with someone watching from the next room. Your routine before bed is not interrupted so we are capturing a typical night. With just a sensor on your forehead and nose, we can tell if you have sleep apnea.
These days, patients are responsible for more of the cost of their healthcare than ever before. It matters what procedures cost now! Whether it’s your portion as a co-pay, the full amount because you have a high deductible or the entire cost because your insurance doesn’t cover the procedure, many patients are searching for a more cost-effective solution. Home Sleep Test is between 1/3rd and 1/10th the cost of an in-lab study. In most cases, the outcome is the same.
Have you experienced the sleep you deserve?
We can now customize an oral device you wear during the night to maintain and open airway, reducing snoring and sleep apnea.
Benicia Family Dentistry