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Don’t Ignore the Snore

by Frederick Dreher

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 37 million people snore on a regular basis, and about half of those suffer from a serious, life-altering condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This occurs when the tissues of the throat collapse into the airway and block an individual’s ability to breathe while they are asleep. It can last for 10 seconds or longer and happen 30 times or more per hour. If left untreated, complications may include stroke, daytime fatigue, diabetes, depression and cardiac issues.

When an individual suffers from OSA and stops breathing, even for seconds, their organs are deprived of vital oxygen. The brain receives an alerting signal to wake up, causing their heart rate to spike, thus increasing blood pressure and making the heart work harder.

Symptoms often go undiagnosed, such as loud snoring, waking up gasping for air, dry mouth and chronic fatigue. Sometimes it takes a spouse or sleeping partner to recognize that there is a serious problem. The only way to tell for sure if an individual suffers from OSA is by undergoing a sleep test. Traditionally, a sleep test would be performed in a lab as a sleep technician monitors brain waves and oxygen levels in the blood. However, thanks to newer technology, these sleep tests can now be done in the comfort of home using a designated at-home sleep test device.

Once diagnosed, there are options for treatment of OSA. The most well-known option is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which forces air into the airway to keep it open. The device is strapped on a person’s face to provide positive pressure.

Another option is oral appliance therapy, which uses a small, portable, custom appliance similar to a mouth guard. It slightly moves the lower jaw forward comfortably, which prevents the airway from collapsing. Most users find it to be user-friendly, travel-friendly, and spouse-approved. It is also a popular option for those that suffer from claustrophobia or have latex sensitivity.

It is important to see a doctor if OSA is suspected. With proper diagnosis and treatment of this condition, weight loss has been observed, blood pressure controlled, partners are able to sleep in
the same room once again and a better quality of life has been reported.

The holistic office of Frederick Dreher, DDS, PC, located at 410 Rowland St., in Ballston Spa, provides dental device options for OSA. For more information and a free initial consultation, call 518-885-6185 or visit NoMercDoc.com.