What sleep apnea looks like

Unlike some other health conditions, sleep apnea is never really observed by the person who has it. This is what sleep apnea looks like(video on the right):

But what exactly does it mean to stop breathing — sometimes hundreds of times a night?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious and lifelong medical condition that affects between 50 and 70 million adults over 18 in the US¹; with approximately 90% of them undiagnosed. OSA is a chronic, lifelong medical condition that can affect your sleep, health and quality of life. It has been linked to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, work and driving related accidents and stroke.

It can have a significant impact on quality of life, placing unnecessary strain on relationships between bed partners, family and in the workplace.

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What is an apnea?

Showing a medical model of what happens within the airways may not communicate the gravity of the condition to a patient. In the short clip, we see an individual’s breathing stop — a unique perspective for sleep apnea patients. Notice how the abdomen continues to rise and fall, but the chest stays still during the seconds of the apnea episode.

During sleep, muscles relax, including those that control the tongue and throat. Snoring is often a symptom of OSA caused by changes in your upper airway while you sleep. Your soft tissue may vibrate (commonly known as snoring) or it may completely collapse causing you to stop breathing. The soft tissue at the back of throat can sag, narrowing and constricting the airway. Collapsing of the soft tissue is called an obstructive apnea and may last for 10 seconds or more.

How do I treat sleep apnea?

It is best to speak with your healthcare provider to determine if there are any other underlying health factors to treating your sleep apnea. Your physician may want to order a sleep test (either home-based or in a lab) prior to diagnosing your with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), SomnoDent oral devices are worthy adversaries to the bulky, air-blowing CPAP masks and machines, the traditional treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Instead of air pressure, SomnoDent oral devices thrust the bottom jaw forward to prevent airway blockage during sleep, like CPR. And these devices are more portable and comfortable, making patients more likely to stick with them. Health insurance covers the device if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea.