Sleep Problems (OSA) and Snoring
What is Sleep Apnoea and How Is It Different from Snoring?
Snoring is usually quite regular, but with sleep apnoea, snores are punctuated by frequent pauses in breath, often for several seconds at a time. Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnoea. As you fall asleep, the throat muscles relax and begin to collapse inwards, partially or completely blocking the airway.
Eventually, falling oxygen levels prompt the body to restart breathing, usually with a loud snort or gasp. These episodes aren’t usually enough to awaken the sufferer but can occur multiple times an hour and prevent them from reaching deep, restful sleep. Consequently, people with sleep apnoea will frequently wake up feeling ill rested, tired and irritable. Other signs include a dry mouth when you awaken and having a morning headache.
Sleep Apnoea and its Impact on Health
Sleep apnoea can impact general health, increasing the risk of serious health conditions that include heart disease, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, and liver problems. The lack of sleep can make it dangerous to operate machinery safely. Also, sleeping partners can become sleep deprived due to loud snoring.
If you suspect you may have sleep apnoea, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment
How Icon Dental Can Help You
When you visit our dentist, we can examine your oral health and discuss your symptoms. Sometimes, obstructive sleep apnoea is due to a naturally narrow throat or enlarged tonsils or adenoids that can obstruct the airway and especially in children. If we suspect this might be the case, we can refer you to an appropriate specialist. If necessary, we may refer you for a sleep study, where your sleep is monitored overnight. A sleep study can provide a definitive diagnosis and assess the severity of sleep apnoea.
Sleep Apnoea Treatment
Often, we can treat mild to moderate sleep apnoea with a custom-made oral device. The device is designed to gently move your lower jaw forward slightly, preventing your tongue from falling backwards as you sleep and holding open your airway.
It is very effective, but sometimes lifestyle modifications can help as well. These include trying to sleep on your side rather than on your back and avoiding alcohol which can relax your throat muscles and worsen OSA. Smoking can increase the amount of fluid retention and inflammation in the upper airway, so if you smoke, it is worth trying to quit.