December 7, 2019
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an extremely common condition; an estimated 22 million people in the U.S. suffer from it. Sadly, though, many people ignore their sleep apnea, reasoning that it is not that big of a deal. In this blog post, we discuss why seeking treatment is so vital. We also talk about common therapies used to address OSA that can virtually eliminate its symptoms and help patients enjoy happier, healthier lives.
The Importance of Treatment
OSA causes a patient to suffer apneas (periods of not breathing) throughout the night. These apneas disrupt the sleep cycle and prevent a person from getting the rejuvenating rest their body needs. As a result, an individual can suffer from exhaustion, irritability, and decreased work performance on a daily basis. Not getting enough high-quality sleep can also reduce reaction times to the point where it is extremely dangerous to drive.
The potential consequences of OSA go even further. Various scientific studies have shown a strong correlation between it and a number of serious, even life-threatening, health conditions, including:
- Stroke and heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Depression and anxiety
- Excessive weight gain
- Alzheimer’s disease
Fortunately, for most patients, it is not difficult to reduce or even eliminate OSA symptoms.
Winning the battle against OSA begins with accurate diagnosis. Pharyngometry and rhinometry, tests performed by a qualified sleep dentist, can help to map your airway and pinpoint the reasons why you are not breathing properly at night. A sleep test in a sleep laboratory can reveal the severity of your condition. After you know the facts about your unique OSA case, you can begin exploring your options for sleep apnea therapy.
A CPAP machine is the most commonly prescribed way to fight OSA. The machine gently forces air into the throat, keeping the airway open and preventing apneas. Another common treatment is oral appliance therapy, which repositions the jaw in a manner that prevents airway obstructions. Some patients derive the greatest benefit from combined therapy, which uses both a CPAP machine and an oral appliance.
If you visit a holistic dentist (a dentist who focuses on the overall health of their patients rather than just their immediate symptoms), they may also urge you to make a few lifestyle changes in order to reduce your OSA symptoms. For example, some patients find that their apnea is cured if they lose excess body weight. Others can reduce the severity of their condition by not drinking alcohol before bedtime or sleeping on their side instead of their back.
Obstructive sleep apnea can have devastating consequences for your daily existence and long-term well-being. Seeking diagnosis and treatment could increase your quality of life — and maybe even save your life altogether!
About the Author
Dr. William Langston is a holistic dentist in Sunnyvale who has an in-depth knowledge of the anatomy of the mouth and jaw, and of how defects in these structures may cause sleep apnea. He uses pharyngometry, rhinometry, oral appliance therapy, and more to help his patients understand and fight OSA. To learn more about how he may be able to help you, contact our office at 972-270-6533.
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