There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and mixed (which is a combination of the previous two). A person with sleep apnea of any kind experiences multiple episodes throughout the night where their breathing actually stops – that commonly sounds like a loud snore, snort, or gasp for air while they sleep. Leaving sleep apnea untreated is like rolling the dice with your life every night. Untreated sleep apnea can cause many dangerous medical issues, and even death because breaks in breathing deprive the body’s cells of oxygen and then they can deteriorate permanently.
What You Should Know About Sleep Disorders:
- Left untreated, sleep apnea increases one’s risk of heart attack and stroke
- Drowsiness is blamed for some 200,000-400,000 auto accidents annually, with the cost at $50-100 billion
- 90% of those who snore exhibit sleep apnea tendencies
- Hypertension is present in approximately 50% of patients with diagnosed OSA
- Uncontrolled sleep apnea can lead to exaggerated fibromyalgia, concentration problems, type II diabetes, stroke and irritable bowel syndrome
- Over long periods, uncontrolled sleep apnea results in intellectual and memory deterioration
- Sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure to develop, as well as heart and lung problems
- Anxiety also has a negative relation to sleeping soundly
- Because of sleep disorders, thousands of jobs are lost annually, with the cost in U.S. production exceeding $60 billion
- Sleep apnea has played a role in several disasters including the three mile island meltdown, the Challenger explosion, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill
- The lack of oxygen to the brain and body caused by sleep apnea episodes can also contribute to increased chances of stroke, depression, fatigue, weight gain, irritable bowel syndrome, and type II diabetes.
It is important to remember that although the following are common causes of sleep apnea, it can be present in people of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when a person’s airway becomes obstructed by the collapse of soft tissue in the throat, or by the tongue falling back until the airway is forced back open (that is when a snort or gasp would be heard). Typically obstructive sleep apnea is worse when someone sleeps on their back, but can also occur in other sleeping positions. Characteristics such as having a large neck, enlarged tonsils and/or obesity can contribute to a person’s risk factor in developing OSA.
Central sleep apnea happens when signals from the brain get disrupted when communicating with the respiratory system and essentially do not tell the person’s body to breathe. Central sleep apnea is common in people who have sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), as the injury can make it difficult for the brain to communicate in many different ways.
Coincidentally people who suffer from a TBI have a high chance of also having an undiagnosed Temporomandibular Disorder caused by the same initial trauma.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms:
The symptoms of all three types of sleep apnea are essentially the same and include:
- Loud Snoring
- Frequent Illness
- Memory Problem
- Weight Gain
- Headaches upon Wakening
- Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
- Difficulty Breathing Through Your Nose
- Voice Hoarseness in the Morning
- Falling Asleep While Driving
- Sleep Talking/Walking
- Night Sweats
- Signs of sleep apnea
Do you wake up fully refreshed and full of energy with a good level of concentration? If you don’t, you might have an undiagnosed sleep disorder that could be extremely dangerous. Please talk to your doctor about a possible sleep disorder.
There are different treatment options available to someone that has been diagnosed with any of the types of sleep apnea. Depending on the type of sleep apnea you have been diagnosed with, the cause of your sleep apnea, the severity of your sleep apnea and your age, some of the treatment options available include lifestyle changes, wearing an oral appliance (mouthpiece) at night, using a C-PAP machine (or similar machine), or even surgery.
At Michigan Head & Neck Institute, we exclusively offer treatment for obstructive sleep apnea that consists of creating a custom-fit oral appliance (mouthpiece) which is comfortable and can be adjusted to meet the requirements of each patient. Each patient that chooses an oral appliance (OA) as their treatment, will receive follow up sleep studies (either at-home or a in a sleep lab) which will ensure the OA is positioned accordingly.
There are over 100 different types of oral appliances that are made for OSA. Dr. Klein works with each patient to provide the best options for their specific treatment.
Each mouthpiece advances the lower jaw to keep the airway open all night. Such treatment can be covered by insurance, so please contact our office if you would like to know if your insurance plan provides coverage.