Sleep apnea robs people of vitality, health, and sometimes life itself. For years people have thought of snoring as nothing more than a simple annoyance during the night: snoring is so common that we do not view it as a medical problem. Recent statistics suggest that this seemingly simple noise problem may in fact increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and daytime sleepiness. Loud habitual snoring is usually a precursor to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder defined as the unconscious stoppage of breathing for short periods of time throughout a night’s sleep. With OSA, there is a soft tissue obstruction of the upper airway, which negatively impacts the flow of air.
Pauses in breathing can be just a few seconds to minutes, and occur as little as five to as many as 30 times per hour. OSA is further characterized as a partial reduction (hypopnea) to complete pauses (apnea) in breathing that can last longer than 10 seconds. Depending upon the number of times per hour these episodes are experienced during the course of a night, the severity is classified as mild, moderate or severe.
Regardless of the severity of OSA, airflow and breathing are negatively impacted. With no or little air freely flowing to the lungs, there is a decrease in oxygen levels in the blood. Therefore, if not diagnosed or treated, it comes as no surprise that OSA is a debilitating and life-shortening condition that can impact a person’s life.
Although men may be at a slightly higher risk, both genders can develop OSA. Despite the fact that OSA seems to be more prevalent as we age, children can also develop the problem.
What are the Indicators
The following are some of the classic indicators found in people who suffer from OSA:
- Neck circumference of greater than 17 inches
- Intense snoring
- Daytime sleepiness and excessive fatigue
- Poor concentration
- High blood pressure
- Family history
To assess your OSA risk or if you would like to find out more, please contact Dr. Izabela Olczyk at Lakeshore Dental. We offer custom fitted sleep appliances that can help you prevent the consequences of snoring and sleep apnea.