“Sleep Apnea The Not So Silent Killer”
Sleep Apnea is a medical condition that where the patient’s airway is occluded during sleep causing a hypoxic event (deprived of oxygen) and a non-rested night (unable to achieve a deep sleep or REM sleep).Sleep Apnea requires a Medical Physician (MD) to diagnose, usually using a sleep study. Apnea stresses the heart and brain and may cause many chronic conditions such as ADHD in children and even premature death in the apnea patient. Some signs of apnea are snoring, awakening during the night, not feeling rested in the morning, these may be signs of apnea, again a sleep study is necessary to diagnose. Ideally a CPAP machine (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is used to treat the apnea along with diets and life/wellness changing therapies. However, some patients cannot tolerate the use of these CPAP machines, thus we as Dentists have an oral appliance treatment for those who are CPAP intolerant.
Treatment of apnea is usually the CPAP machine the “Gold Standard”. However, some patients are intolerant of this device due to the large mask and added noise while trying to sleep. Other treatments may include surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids, corrective nasal surgery also treatment of the patients total body fitness may correct the apnea. A few of these apnea patients end up returning the CPAP machines and are left untreated, there may be an oral solution, an appliance fitted to the apnea patient to move the tongue off the back of the airway, these devices may need a “repositioner” appliance to be worn for twenty minutes after the use of the apnea device.
The medical and dental communities are beginning to recognize the seriousness of the long term affects of untreated apnea patients. The rise in the obesity of US population may be a direct relationship to the increase in “Apnea patients.” The rise in children being diagnosed as ADHD may also be related to sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea is a very serious condition when left untreated. Further studies and evaluation may prove that the untreated apnea patient may be a risk for premature death. Those apnea patients treated for their apnea find themselves better rested and life changing habits have an overall great affect in the betterment of the patient’s entire health.