Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder that involves a decrease or complete halt in airflow despite an ongoing effort to breathe. It occurs when the muscles relax during sleep, causing soft tissue in the back of the throat to collapse and block the upper airway. This leads to partial reductions (hypopneas) and complete pauses (apneas) in breathing that last at least 10 seconds during sleep. Most pauses last between 10 and 30 seconds, but some may persist for one minute or longer. This can lead to abrupt reductions in blood oxygen saturation, with oxygen levels falling as much as 40 percent or more in severe cases.
The brain responds to the lack of oxygen by alerting the body, causing a brief arousal from sleep that restores normal breathing. This pattern can occur hundreds of times in one night. The result is a fragmented quality of sleep that often produces an excessive level of daytime sleepiness.
Most people with Obstructive sleep apnea snore loudly and frequently, with periods of silence when airflow is reduced or blocked. They then make choking, snorting or gasping sounds when their airway opens.
Obstructive sleep apnea can occur in any age group, but prevalence increases between middle and older age.
About 24 percent of men and nine percent of women have the breathing symptoms of Obstructive sleep apnea with or without daytime sleepiness.
About 80 percent to 90 percent of adults with Obstructive sleep apnea remain undiagnosed.
Obstructive sleep apnea is as common as Asthma and Diabetes.
Effects of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The primary effect of sleep deprivation is excessive daytime sleepiness. A sleep-deprived person is likely to fall asleep when forced to sit still in a quiet or monotonous situation, such as during a meeting or class. This degree of severe sleepiness can be a safety hazard, causing drowsy driving and workplace injuries. A sleep-deprived person is likely to fall asleep when forced to sit still in a quiet or monotonous situations such as during a meeting or class or as a driver of a car driving long distances or waiting at a red light. This degree of severe sleepiness is a serious safety hazard causing drowsy driving and workplace injuries and even death.
The other effects of sleep deprivation are widespread and include effects on our mood such as irritability, lack of motivation, anxiety, symptoms of depression and marital discord.
People’s daily performance is most noticeably affected. It quite often is manifested as lack of concentration, attention deficits, slower reaction times, poor decisions and increased errors.
Lack of energy, fatigue, restlessness, forgetfulness and lack of coordination are all signs you may be suffering from daytime somnolence syndrome (daytime fatigue) and sleep apnea.
Studies have shown that repeated disruption of sleep patterns can cause sufferers to perform motor skills at or below the levels of individuals who are legally intoxicated! So if you suffer from sleep apnea, it is likely that you could be a real threat to you and your loved ones because impaired reactions while operating machinery or driving a car can lead to disaster or even death regardless of the cause.
The other effects of sleep deprivation are widespread:
- Lack of motivation
- Symptoms of depression
- Lack of concentration
- Cognitive impairment
- Attention deficits
- Reduced vigilance
- Longer reaction times
- Lack of energy
- Fatigue (Daytime somnolence syndrome)
- Lack of coordination
- Poor decisions
- Increased errors
People suffering from sleep apnea are more likely to develop these medical conditions:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Erectile dysfunction
- Colon cancer
- Earlier onset dementia
Sleep apnea’s effect on driving is a growing problem North America, and the risk, danger and often tragic outcomes of drowsy driving are sobering. According to a survey, nine of 10 police officers reported stopping a driver who they believed was drunk but turned out to be drowsy. Further, data indicate 80,000 individualsin the United States fall asleep at the wheel each day and there are more than 250,000 sleep-related motor vehicle accidents each year. It is estimated that twenty percent of all serious transportation injuries on the nation’s highways are related to sleep.
How to effectively treat Sleep Apnea
The good news is that specially trained dentists who work together with sleep physicians can help with effective treatment options to stop snoring and sleep apnea. The solution for many patients is a custom made adjustable dental appliance. Snoring and Sleep Apnea are often eliminated or substantially minimized for almost all patients who use this dental appliance.
This will allow you and your bed partner to finally have a good night’s sleep.
If you, or anyone you know or love snores or has Seep Apnea, make sure it isn’t hazardous to your health.
Help is readily available by seeing a sleep physician who specializes in sleep apnea.
See a sleep apnea physician as soon as possible and avoid the potential health risks associated with snoring and Sleep Apnea.
To find out if oral appliance therapy is right for you, contact a qualified dentist who has been Board Certified by the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine.
Go to www.abdsm.org for more details.
Dr. David J.Stern,DDS., D, ABDSM is a Doctor of Dental Surgery and is Board Certified by The American Board of DentalSleep Medicine, a Member of The Canadian Sleep Society as well as a Member of the National Sleep Foundation (Washington D.C.)