Sleep Apnea Treatment Will Improve Overall Health, Mood and Productivity
By W. Scott Jordan, DDS and Kimberly DeSena, DMD
Despite common misconceptions, anyone – regardless of gender, weight or fitness level – can develop obstructive sleep apnea, a life-threatening condition characterized by episodes of complete or partial airway obstruction during sleep. As many as 12 million to 18 million American adults have untreated sleep apnea, local dentists W Scott Jordan, DDS and Kimberly DeSena, DMD recommend the following steps for diagnosis and treatment to significantly improve overall health, mood and productivity.
Be aware of the risk factors:
- Age and weight: Risk of sleep apnea increases between middle and older age and with the amount of excess body weight you carry.
- Gender: Men have a greater likelihood of developing sleep apnea. However, menopause is a risk factor for sleep apnea in women.
- Family history: Risk of sleep apnea is also higher if family members have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
- Habits: Smoking is another significant risk factor, as well as being a detriment to your overall health.
- Other diseases: Many people don’t realize that they’re in greater danger of developing sleep apnea if they already suffer from other common diseases. Seven in 10 Type 2 diabetics and 30 to 40 percent of adults with hypertension also have obstructive sleep apnea.
Watch for symptoms:
“Not everyone who snores has the disease,” said Dr. Jordan. “However, when snoring is paired with choking, gasping or pauses in breathing during sleep, it’s a more likely indicator of sleep apnea.”
There are also several daytime warning signs. Morning headaches, excessive sleepiness, trouble concentrating, memory or learning problems, and general moodiness, irritability or depression can all signal sleep apnea.
Get evaluated and treated:
It’s critical that those exhibiting risk factors or symptoms of sleep apnea be evaluated by a board-certified sleep medicine physician right away.
“Once diagnosed, the recommended treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which provides a steady stream of air through a mask to gently keep your airway open – making it easier to breathe,” said Dr. DeSena. “It’s estimated that CPAP therapy reduces the 10-year risk of heart attack by 49 percent and stroke by 31 percent.”
However, compliance with a CPAP device continues to be an issue. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends mild-moderate cases of sleep apnea be treated with an oral appliance when other methods such as CPAP or surgery is inappropriate or not preferred by the patient. Similar in appearance to an orthodontic retainer or a sports guard, an oral appliance for the treatment of sleep apnea maintains an open airway by repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate or uvula. Doctors Jordan and DeSena cannot emphasize the importance of having the treatment of sleep apnea or snoring with oral appliances by a dentist trained and experienced in sleep dentistry.
Treating sleep apnea provides all the benefits of improved sleep, including improved memory and cognitive function. Clinical evidence also shows that sleep apnea treatment lowers blood pressure – decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Left untreated, sleep apnea may have a serious impact on overall health, even increasing risk of death.
Individuals with loud snoring and the symptoms of sleep illness listed in this article should have a consultation. Then, you will be on your way to a productive night’s sleep, thereby improving your overall health, mood and productivity.
Doctors Jordan and DeSena practice dentistry in Rutherfordton, NC.