Sleep Apnea Treatment

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by abnormal breathing while sleeping. People who have this disorder can have multiple extended pauses in their breathing during sleep. These brief breathing pauses impair sleep quality and reduce the body’s oxygen supply, potentially resulting in serious health consequences. One of the most common sleep disorders in the United States, sleep apnea can affect children, adults, and people of both sexes. However, men are more likely to be affected by it.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three forms: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea (CSA), and mixed sleep apnea.

In OSA, the person’s airway at the back of the throat will become physically blocked. This obstruction in the airway results in temporary lapses in breathing.

In CSA, it is an issue with the brain’s system that controls muscles responsible for respiration. This causes the person to breathe slower and shallower during sleep. On the other hand, when a person suffers from OSA and CSA at the same time, then it is called mixed sleep apnea — also referred to as complex sleep apnea.

The underlying causes of OSA and CSA vary; therefore, the symptoms vary too. This is why there are significant differences in treatment for both types of sleep apnea.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

The three types share the following symptoms:

  • Breathing disruptions, which can make a person’s respiration labored or even stop it for around a minute at a time
  • Excessive sleeping during the daytime
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty in thinking clearly or limited attention span
  • Morning headaches

However, OSA shows a few additional symptoms:

  • Snoring (it can be loud and accompanied by gasping, snorting, and choking — causing the person to wake up briefly)
  • Sore throat or dry mouth in the morning
  • Frequently waking up for urination

While chronic snoring is a common symptom of OSA, it does not necessarily mean that someone who snores has sleep apnea. Meanwhile snoring is not common for CSA.

Since it is a sleep disorder, the patients will never know themselves about the symptoms. It has to be someone else close by who notices the signs of sleep apnea.

For diagnosis, a specialist for sleep apnea will evaluate the patient by nocturnal polysomnography (checking breathing and other body functions during sleep with aid of certain equipment), and home sleep tests. For OSA, the specialist may refer the patient to an ENT doctor and a cardiologist or neurologist for CSA.

Treatment Options

In mild cases of the disorder, a specialist is likely to recommend only lifestyle changes. For example, quitting smoking, managing body weight, and treatment in case of nasal allergies.

If the signs do not improve with just lifestyle changes, then there are other treatment options for moderate to severe cases of the disorder. Certain devices can open up blocked airways during sleep (CPAP, oral appliances, supplemental oxygen, ASV). In the case of CSA, the doctor recommends treatment for associated medical problems. In case all such treatments fail, the specialist may suggest surgery, which is also available in several options.

Dental Services in Chula Vista

Dr. Nick Addario offers a variety of dental services in Chula Vista, including evaluation and treatment options for sleep apnea.

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