It has been estimated that 60% of men and 40% of women between the ages of 40 and 60 years of age snore. Snoring occurs when there is a partial obstruction of the airway which causes the palatal tissues to vibrate. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway is completely blocked for certain periods of time. Snoring is a social problem, particularly for the spouse, but obstructive sleep apnea poses a significant health risk for the patient. It can lead to irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
Sleep apnea is a type of breathing disorder which is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. As many as 20 million people in North America may have sleep apnea. There are basically three types of apnea:
The upper airway is open, but no oxygen is getting into the system. This occurs because the patient is not getting a chemical response from the brain to stimulate the lungs and the diaphragm to assist with breathing.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The lungs and the diaphragm are functioning normally, but no oxygen is entering the system because there is an obstruction in the upper airway.
This is a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Oral appliances are only indicated for use in patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The signs and symptoms of OSA include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Gasping or choking during the night
- Non-refreshed sleep
- Fragmented sleep
- Clouded memory
- Personality changes
- Decreased sex drive
- Morning headaches.
Common Causes of Sleep Apnea
Factors that affect obstructive sleep apnea are as follows:
- Sedative Hypnotics (sleeping pills)
Signs My Child Could Have Sleep Apnea
Children can also snore and suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Often they are highly allergic and their airway is blocked due to enlarged adenoids, tonsils or swollen nasal mucosa. Clinical signs would indicate a:
- Turned up nose
- Allergic shiners under the eyes
- Mucous draining out of the nose
- Mouth breathing
- A nasal sound to the voice
- Bed wetting
- Difficulty in concentrating at school
Most hospitals have sleep diagnostic centers which are being run by sleep technicians working with physicians. Sleep centers have sophisticated equipment in an adjoining room where an intercom and video camera allow communication between the technician and the patient. The patient comes in at night and is hooked up to a number of machines which are used to monitor the activities of the brain, the eyes and the muscles. The recordings are done in a private room and there is no discomfort to the patient. The patient is not confined to a fixed position and can turn freely. Recordings are done during the night in a seven hour sleep period and the patient is discharged in the morning.
What is a Polysomnogram?
The purpose of a polysomnogram is to evaluate the individual sleep architecture including the stages and cycles of sleep as well as to record the electrical activity of the brain, the eyes, muscles and heart.
Records the activity of the brain. This verifies and records the different stages of sleep.
Records the movement of the eyes and measures the periods of rapid eye movement (REM).
Records muscle activity throughout the body.
Measures cardiovascular abnormalities during sleep.
It also uses a finger or ear oximeter to measure the amount of oxyhemoglobin (oxygen saturation) in the blood. Patients suffering from OSA have a decreased amount of oxygen in the system.
Schedule a consultation
For more information on Sleep Apnea, Call Sullivan Dental Center today at 225-635-4422 to schedule a consultation and find out more about the services we offer.