Hundreds of millions of people of all ages around the world suffer from deadly obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) has been linked to Cardiovascular Disease, Cerebrovascular Insult, Endocrine Disorders and Obesity.
What is Sleep Apnea?
A potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious, life threatening disorder that is characterized as a series of episodes in which a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or longer during sleep.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep. This causes shallow breathing or breathing pauses.
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnose?
Most people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it because it only occurs during sleep. A family member or bed partner might be the first to notice signs of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits. Also no blood test can help diagnose the condition. Snoring is a major indicator, but not all symptoms are so obvious-and audible. A dentist can detect the less evident symptoms of sleep apnea through a candid conversation with a patient, in conjunction with an exam, about the patients’s recent pains or discomforts. A dentist may suspect a patient suffers from sleep apnea if the patient complains about lethargy, morning headaches, or dry mouth (typically caused by open mouth breathing during sleep).
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea:
- Morning headaches
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Irritability and impaired mental or emotional functioning
- Excessive snoring, chocking, or gasping during sleep
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
Most dentist have undergone special training for the treatment of sleep apnea and are very skilled in its management using behavioral modification and dental appliances, but a confirmed diagnosis from a sleep medicine specialist is required before any treatment can be administered.
Sleep apnea can be a silent condition, it can go undiagnosed for many years. It is important to keep an open and honest dialog with health care professionals to ensure that conditions such as sleep apnea can be identified and properly treated.