Finding ourselves immersed in the festive holiday season, it’s important to still keep an eye on our health during this busy time. If you are displaying symptoms of a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, it’s important to address it right away. Whether you are giving gifts to celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, the Solstice or Kwanza, you and your loved one’s health should still be a priority!
For those who suffer from the effects of sleep apnea, you might find yourself sleeping very little and poorly, having psychophysiological insomnia from anxiety, having acid reflux, snoring, mouth breathing, overweight and even having microsleeps that make you vulnerable to accidents. If you are unusually cranky, tired and plagued with a faulty memory, you may be one of those experiencing this chronic sleep disturbance. Unfortunately, if this disorder is left untreated, your health will steadily deteriorate.
If you are diagnosed with this sleep disorder – where the muscles around the tongue and the throat relax so that the tissues blog your airflow as you sleep – you do have treatment options. If your symptoms are mild, simple lifestyle changes like losing weight, quitting smoking and exercising more can help. For moderate to severe sleep apnea, wearing a continuous positive airway pressure mask (CPAP) can help open blocked airways. A CPAP machine delivers air pressure through the mask as you sleep.
Not everyone needs or prefers the CPAP, and for those patients wearing an oral appliance during sleep can also keep the throat open to enable healthy breathing. Some people find it easier to wear an appliance and forgo wearing a mask which can take some getting used to before being comfortable. For people with mild to moderate sleep apnea, particularly those who sleep on their backs or stomachs, a dental device can improve sleep and reduce the frequency and loudness of snoring.
Also, some people are more likely to wear their dental appliance regularly than they might a CPAP mask. The most popular oral device is the mandibular advancement device or MAD. These appliances look similar to a sports guard worn over the teeth and snap over the top and bottom arches with metal hinges that gently move the lower jaw forward. Some MADS allow you to control the level of advancement as well. Another oral appliance that helps prevent snoring is a tongue-retaining device, which is essentially a splint that keeps the tongue in place and out of the way of the airway.
If you opt for an oral device to treat your sleep apnea, you will need routine checkups to make necessary adjustments to the device. Depending on the cause of your sleep apnea, you may be a good candidate for wearing an oral appliance. Factors that should be considered include how severe your sleep apnea level is, how your upper airway is structured and what other health issues you have.Not to be discounted, your own your personal preference is also important because having a CPAP or an oral device won’t help if it is not consistently used.
This holiday season, why not treat yourself or someone you love with the gift of a good night’s rest and improved health? We are happy to meet with you to discuss sleep apnea and which treatment is right for you, so give us a call today!