“What is sleep apnea?” is a question that approximately 75% of the population in the United States has never asked. Instead, many people are living with symptoms of sleep apnea, including:
- Being tired during the day
- Having poor memory
- Being forgetful
- Choking or gasping for air during sleep
- Headaches in the morning
- Multiple nighttime bathroom trips
These symptoms should not be accepted as a normal way of life.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common condition that affects millions of people, and is a chronic disorder wherein one repeatedly stops breathing during the night. Each pause in breathing is called apnea – literally meaning “no breath” – and can last from several seconds to several minutes. Some people may experience 5 to 30 apnea episodes in one hour. When breathing is irregular, carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream, triggering the brain to wake the sleeping person and resume breathing.
Why does sleep apnea happen? When someone with obstructive sleep apnea sleeps, gravity and muscle relaxation allows the tongue and surrounding soft tissue to fall back into the throat area, collapsing the airway and obstructing the air flow. The condition is further complicated by excessive weight, loss of muscle tone due to aging or excessive tissue in the upper airway. Additionally, sleeping on the back or alcohol use may increase apnea events.
Consequences of untreated sleep apnea
The consequences of sleep apnea on a person’s health can be significant. When the condition is left untreated, snoring and sleep apnea lead to several physical issues and diseases, as well as major health complications.(1) Sleep apnea places people at risk for:
- An 83% increase in drug-resistant hypertension
- A 77% increase in obesity
- A 76% increase in congestive heart failure
- A 59% increase in diabetes
- A 76% increase in coronary artery disease
The good news is that sleep apnea is a treatable condition – solutions exist that have helped people around the world rest easier, feel better during the day, and reduce their risk of health complications. Outside of weight loss where appropriate, two primary options exist for the treatment of sleep apnea – CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) and COAT (Continuous Open Airway Therapy).
CPAP: CPAP is administered through a CPAP machine, which supplies pressurized air through a tube and into a mask that is worn over the nose, or sometimes over the nose and the mouth. The increased air pressure prevents the sleeper’s airway from collapsing during sleep.
COAT: COAT is delivered via an oral device that is prescribed by a sleep physician and fitted by a dentist so that it can be comfortably worn in the mouth. The device treats OSA by moving the lover jaw slightly forward, which keeps the airway open.
How do I get started with treatment?
Getting started with treatment for sleep apnea is easier than it’s ever been. The traditional process for beginning the treatment process is:
1. Talk to your physician about your symptoms. If you don’t have a sleep physician, ask your primary care physician for a referral.
2. Your sleep physician will order a sleep study, and provide you with the diagnosis afterwards.
3. If diagnosed with mild-moderate sleep apnea, COAT is an option for you. A dentist will fit you with the COAT option. Ask your dentist about a SomnoDent device and discuss the sleep physician’s diagnosis.
If you or your loved one deals with sleep apnea, use this information to obtain your solution. Let us know how we can help – contact a SomnoMed customer service representative at 888-447-6673.