Sleep Apnea and Snoring

sleep apnea and snoring affect your quality of life

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What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a much more serious condition than snoring, although snoring can be the first and most obvious sign. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where the airway is blocked by an obstruction, usually the tongue, tonsils or an enlarged uvula. In some cases, those with sleep apnea (known as sleep apneics) will wake themselves up several times during the night. In other cases, they will move from deep to lighter sleep states following an apneic event. People who suffer from OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) often complain of not feeling well rested, having memory loss, lacking concentration, tooth grinding, weight gain, depression or a decrease in libido. Other symptoms of sleep apnea are high blood pressure, heart disease, GERD or acid reflux, impotence and diabetes. Sleep apnea can affect mood, overall health and can be dangerous if it causes daytime sleepiness.

Diagnosis of sleep apnea is made following a sleep study conducted with Dr. Robin Khan. She also works in consultation with pulmonary doctors, Naresh Dewan and George Thommi, for the best sleep apnea results.

Factors which increase one’s risk for sleep apnea:

  • Gender-more males than females suffer with sleep apnea
  • Obesity
  • Deviated septum
  • Large, scalloped tongue
  • Males with a neck size greater than 17 inches and females with a neck size greater than 16 inches…and this can either be from fat or from muscle.*
    *A study of professional football players in the Super Bowl showed that 34% of linemen in that game were diagnosed with sleep disordered breathing. This is roughly 8 times more than the average.
  • Childhood history of asthma and/or allergies
  • Orthodontic (braces) treatment, especially as a child
  • Large tonsils and/or adenoids that have not been removed
  • Difficulty breathing through the mouth during the day and/or night
  • Tongue/mouth jewelry/piercings
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Partial or complete tooth loss (edentulism)
Sleep Apnea and Sleepless Nights

How do you know that you are at risk?

There are two questionnaires our patients fill out, regardless of whether they discuss their sleep (or lack of it) with us. These forms are the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (filled out by the patient) and the Sleep Observer’s Questionnaire (filled out by the patient’s bed partner). For the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, a score of 6 or greater indicates the possibility of sleep-disordered breathing. For the Sleep Observer’s Questionnaire, go to question #4 if you have no sleep partner. A score of 5 or greater on this questionnaire indicates your snoring may be significantly affecting your quality of life.

Sleep Apnea Treatments

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a dangerous condition that affects your ability to breath during sleep. There are several different options for treating this common problem:

A CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine – Ideal for severe sleep apnea, these bulky devices force oxygen into the patient’s nose and mouth while he or she sleeps. While highly effective, the machines tend to be quite uncomfortable; only 70% of patients keep using them after a year.
Dental appliances – Customized night guards can keep the lower jaw open and slightly forward, which helps patients maintain an open airway and keep their tongue from blocking the back of the throat while sleeping.
Surgery – Reducing the size of the tongue or uvula and soft palate is also an option, but an invasive one. Tonsil or adenoid removal is another surgical choice, but again, quite invasive and painful for adults.

After a sleep study and evaluation, we can discuss your diagnosis and help you decide which treatment option is best for you. It could even be a combination of two, as patients that use a CPAP often prefer to use a mouth appliance in conjunction.

Advantages of Sleep Apnea Dental Appliances

For patients with moderate or mild sleep apnea, dental devices are often the preferred treatment option. Here are some of the advantages they have over CPAP machines and surgical procedures:

More affordable – According to the American Sleep Association (ASA), CPAP machines can cost as much as $3,000. The average is $850. Dental appliances are much more affordable, especially with insurance.
Less invasive – There’s no surgery required for sleep apnea appliances.
More comfortable – The majority of patients report that dental appliances are more comfortable than CPAP machines. Surgery also causes discomfort.
Easier to use consistently – Since they’re more comfortable, sleep apnea appliances have high compliance.
More effective – Some studies show that dental appliances are more effective than surgical therapies.

Dr. Khan strives to protect your heart health with these sleep apnea treatments. She consults on cases with two local pulmonologists, Drs. Naresh Dewan and George Thommi. Contact or call our office today to explore the best option for you and your snoring or sleep apnea. Call us today and get better sleep!

ESS form and Sleep Observer Questionnaire

Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS)

Sleep Observer Questionnaire.pdf

After a sleep study and evaluation, we can discuss your diagnosis and help you decide which treatment option is best for you. It could even be a combination of two, as patients that use a CPAP often prefer to use a mouth appliance in conjunction.

Contact or call our office today and get better sleep tonight!