Sleep Apnea Treatment in Cloverly & Silver Spring, MD
Aside from disrupting sleep, snoring doesn’t seem like something to worry about too much. Unfortunately, some snorers are at risk of having a potentially serious sleep disorder. Sleep apnea occurs when you repeatedly stop and start breathing while you sleep. This disorder is something that needs to be treated by a sleep apnea professional in Silver Spring as soon as possible before other more serious conditions develop.
Three Categories of Sleep Apnea
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central sleep apnea
- Mixed sleep apnea
What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common and severe form of the condition. During sleep, the muscles of the throat and mouth relax and sag, to the point of narrowing or even completely obstructing the airway. Regular breathing stops, the diaphragm and chest strain for air, and the struggle often unblocks the airway with a loud snore, choking sounds, or a gasp. The reason this condition is so serious is because blood oxygen levels fall. The blood pressure rises and the heart beats irregularly. In turn, this can lead to heart disease, stroke, liver problems, or complications with medications and surgery.
Central sleep apnea (CSA) is less common and occurs because the muscles are not getting proper signals from the brain. Basically the airway remains open or unobstructed, but the chest and lungs fail to function. This interruption in oxygen triggers an alarm in the brain and prompts a gasping reaction. However, because there is no obstruction this type of sleep apnea does not result in snoring. And, if someone experiences both types of OSA and CSA, then it is called mixed sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Waking up with a sore or dry throat
- Impaired mental functioning
- Waking up choking or gasping
- Morning headaches
- Mood changes
- Restless sleep
Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea
Though there are numerous contributors to this sleep disorder, there are some risk factors that could increase your risk of OSA. For example, people who are overweight, with a thicker neck and a narrow airway are more likely to get sleep apnea. Other risk factors include being male and older than 60 with a family history of sleep apnea. Also, if you have allergies or nasal congestion you could be at a greater risk.
When to See a Silver Spring Dentist about Sleep Apnea
If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, or some of the leading risk factors, it is time to contact our dentist. Other signs that you need to see a doctor include: snoring loud enough to disturb your sleep or the sleep of others, intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep, and excessive daytime drowsiness. With a simple survey of questions or a sleep test, we can determine whether you are just a primary snorer, or if you indeed have sleep apnea. Because sleep apnea can be dangerous, it needs to be treated as soon as possible. If you or your sleep partner suspects a problem contact us right away.
Treatment for Mild Sleep Apnea
There are several lifestyles changes you can make to prevent mild cases of sleep apnea. Changing your sleep position and laying on your side can treat airway obstruction. Another thing to try is avoiding alcohol and sedatives that relax the muscles of your mouth and throat. Also, do not wait until fatigue sets in before you sleep. Other lifestyle changes might include losing weight, exercising, and keeping your nasal passages open at night with saline spray or decongestants. For mild cases of sleep apnea these simple lifestyle changes may be all you need for treatment.
Treatment for Mild to Moderate Sleep Apnea
However, for mild to moderate cases, simple lifestyles changes might not be enough. In these instances, our dentist can prescribe an oral appliance. The Mandibular advancement device (MAD) or the Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) are both effective treatments. These appliances work by positioning the jaw or soft tissues, stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue, and increasing the muscle tone of the tongue. All these will open up the airways and make nighttime breathing easier. You may have to test these devices and find one that works best for you. The advantages of oral appliance therapy are that these methods are comfortable and easy to wear. They are also small, convenient, and easy to pack along while traveling. This treatment is also non-invasive.
Treatment for Severe Sleep Apnea
In more severe cases of sleep apnea, surgery may be required. Some surgical options include tissue removal, jaw repositioning, tracheostomy, or plastic implants. These sleep apnea treatments are usually a last resort, only implemented after the other options have failed. The main goal of surgery for sleep apnea is to enlarge the airway and reduce vibrations and blockages.
Contact our office today if you have concerns about sleep apnea or sleep apnea prevention in Cloverly & Silver Spring.