It is believed that sleep apnoea affects millions of people every year, but since it occurs at night while you sleep, people are unaware they are suffering and thus it goes undiagnosed. Signs and symptoms include unrefreshed sleep, daytime sleepiness, depression, morning headaches and going to the toilet frequently throughout the night. For many, gagging or gasping for air at times whilst sleeping or loud snoring is common.
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) results from the tongue and soft palate collapsing onto the back of the throat while you sleep. This obstructs the upper airway, causing airflow to be restricted or completely stop; often for more than 10 seconds at a time. This is an obstructive apnoea; the process repeats itself over and over again through the night. In severe cases, some people can lose breath for as much as 40 seconds over 60 times an hour.
The combination of low oxygen levels and consistent, disturbed, and interrupted sleep can cause the patient to feel exhausted throughout the day. In some cases, the patient does not even know how bad their sleep really is. Thus it is vital that if you have any symptoms you have a sleep study to assess your risk of sleep-disordered breathing. The ill effects of sleep apnoea can contribute to a host of very serious health concerns like cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack.
Who’s at risk?
There is an increased risk of suffering from OSA for males who are moderate to severely overweight, and those over the age of 40. But almost anyone can suffer; even petite women and children. This potentially life-threatening disease is a lot more common than generally expected and should be taken very seriously.
What are the signs and symptoms of OSA?
- Tiredness/fatigue and irritability in the mornings and during the day
- Daytime sleepiness
- Frequently waking throughout the night to go to the toilet or get a drink
- Regular morning headaches
- Worn teeth caused by clenching or grinding of teeth
- Poor memory
- Reflux problems
- Dark circles or bags under or around the eyes
Repetitive airway collapse (apneic events) during the night leads to a lack of oxygen. This inhibits your body from getting the refreshing sleep it needs. Not only is OSA a major, often unrecognized, cause of daytime sleepiness, it can also be an associated risk factor for very serious medical conditions.
Serious medical conditions
- Heart Disease (33% increase in cardiovascular disease)
- High Blood Pressure · Immune compromise
- Memory Impairment / loss
- Poor Motor Skills
How do you get diagnosed?
Because sleep apnoea occurs at night while sleeping, diagnosis isn’t as easy as a quick visit to your local GP or dentist.
The gold standard is the in-lab hospital sleep study. There, your sleep will need to be monitored by a trained professional who will also use a series of highly specialised instruments to monitor your body through a night’s sleep.
Why should I have a sleep study?
It is imperative that you have a sleep study prior to being fitted with any sort of treatment for sleep-disordered breathing. Even if you think you just snore, it is possible that you have some level OSA and may need to see a specialist. Healthcare funds recognise this and will not give any rebate for any treatment of sleep-disordered breathing snoring or OSA unless the patient has had a full sleep study which has been analysed by a sleep physician.
At Riken Dental Group we will first need to schedule a professional sleep study to properly and legally diagnose your condition as snoring or OSA.
Snoring and OSA treatment solutions
If you or a loved one snores, the problem can be more than just a social embarrassment. There are many non-surgical alternatives to traditional snoring and sleep apnoea therapies. Sleep disorders, if left untreated, can result in a host of serious negative side effects to your overall health and mental well-being.
If you think you or a loved one currently suffers from Sleep Apnoea or any other sleep condition, please contact us to make an appointment.
For those who suffer with mild to moderate sleep apnoea, treatment may be a dental device such as a mandibular advancement splint (MAS). This device is worn while you sleep. It works to open your airway by bringing the lower jaw, tongue and associated soft tissue forward. Therefore stopping it from collapsing during sleep. This appliance maintains the patency of your airway and thus greatly reduces or eliminates the snoring and apnoeic events.
When considering this form of snoring/OSA treatment, it is very important to get a consultation and be fitted in an accredited dental clinic with advanced training in sleep apnoea. Additionally, it is important to return for regular visits to prevent any dental problems from occurring. The appliances may also need periodical adjustment to help secure a better fit and ensure optimal efficiency.
For patients with severe obstructive sleep apnoea the most common treatment is Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP). A sleep physician will prescribe this treatment.
Don’t wait to start getting help.
If you think you or a loved one currently suffers from Sleep Apnoea or any other sleep condition, pleasecontact us to make an appointment.