Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder that causes snoring and breathing pauses during sleep. These breathing pauses may occur 30 times or more an hour. As a result, the quality of sleep suffers, making patients tired during the day. On top of that, life partners are often suffering too, as loud and persistent snoring can keep him or her awake and take a toll on his or her well-being.
The most obvious sign of obstructive sleep apnea is chronic, loud, and ongoing snoring. There is usually, too, persistent sleepiness during the day, including while at work or driving. This may cause the sufferer to doze off during periods of inactivity. Other symptoms include morning headaches, waking frequently throughout night, difficulty concentrating and remembering, psychological problems such as depression or mood changes, and sore throat or dry mouth upon waking.t awakenings or insomnia
Obstructive sleep apnea risk factors
Fragmented sleep such as that induced by obstructive sleep apnea is the most common cause of daytime sleepiness and issues related to sleep deprivation, including problems with memory, reaction time, and concentration. OSA may also lead to serious illnesses due to its reduction of oxygen levels. This combination of disturbed sleep and oxygen starvation may contribute to ailments including hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, sexual dysfunction, and depression, plus a significantly higher risk of accidents, including those in the workplace and while driving.
With normal breathing, which supports the restorative sleep that is so important to human health and well-being, air flows freely through the upper airway. There is no obstruction to hinder breathing.
Snoring is caused by partial obstruction of the upper airway when the muscles that normally keep it open relax and the soft tissue vibrates during deep sleep. It is very common and generally does not cause sleep interruptions.
Obstructive sleep apnea exists when the airway becomes blocked to the extent that it causes pauses in breathing and impaired sleep quality.
Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can increase the risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack, stroke, or irregular heartbeat
- Severe weight gain
- Sexual dysfunctions
- Work-related or driving accidents
Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
OAT (Oral Appliance Therapy) is a custom-designed oral appliance prescribed by your dentist to treat snoring or mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. It is also recommended for patients with more severe OSA who are unable or unwilling to tolerate CPAP therapy and/or surgery. The two-piece appliance is designed to prevent apneas by keeping the upper airway open.