What is Sleep Apnoea?
It is believed that sleep apnoea affects millions of people every year, but since it occurs at night while you sleep, people are unaware they are suffering and thus it goes undiagnosed. Signs and symptoms include unrefreshed sleep, daytime sleepiness, depression, morning headaches and going to the toilet frequently throughout the night. For many, gagging or gasping for air at times whilst sleeping or loud snoring is common.
Sleep Apnoea results from the tongue and soft palate collapsing onto the back of the throat while you sleep. This obstructs the upper airway, causing airflow to be restricted or completely stop; often for more than 10 seconds at a time. Your brain signals the body that there is a lack of oxygen and adrenalin is released and you arouse, this is where you may gasp for breath. Your airway will regain tonus and open, forcing the obstruction in your throat to clear and then your breathing will begin again. This is an obstructive apnoea; the process repeats itself over and over again through the night. In severe cases some people can lose breath for as much as 40 seconds over 60 times an hour.
The combination of low oxygen levels and consistent, disturbed, and interrupted sleep can causes the patient to feel exhausted throughout the day, but in some cases the patient does not even know how bad their sleep really is. Thus it is vital that if you have any symptoms you have a sleep study to assess your risk of sleep disordered breathing; as the ill effects of sleep apnoea can contribute to a host of very serious health concerns like cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack.
Who’s at risk?
- Those who are moderately to severely overweight.
- Those over the age of 40.
- But almost anyone can suffer; even petite women and children.
- This potentially life threatening disease is a lot more common than generally expected and should be taken very seriously.
What are the signs and symptoms of Sleep Apnoea?
- Tiredness/fatigue and irritability in the mornings and during the day
- Daytime sleepiness
- Frequently waking throughout the night to go to toilet or get a drink
- Regular Morning Headaches
- Worn teeth caused by clenching or grinding of teeth
- Poor memory
- Reflux problems
- Dark circles or bags under or around the eyes
Why is it so harmful?
Repetitive airway collapse can lead to large pressure fluctuations in the lungs and oxygen deficiency which places stress on the heart and cardiovascular system. Consequently in people with OSA, the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and sudden cardiovascular death during sleep is increased as is diabetes. Most recently, OSA has been associated with an increased risk of cancer death. Thus it is imperative that once diagnosed with OSA you are adequately treated.
But the strains on the system from arousing over and over due to lack of oxygen, as much as 500 times a night; inhibit your body from getting the refreshing sleep it needs. Not only is OSA a major, often unrecognized, cause of daytime sleepiness, it can also be an associated risk factor for very serious medical conditions:
- Heart Disease (33% increase in cardiovascular disease)
- High Blood Pressure
- Immune compromise
- Memory Impairment / loss
- Poor Motor Skills
For those who suffer with mild to moderate sleep apnoea, treatment may be a dental device such as a mandibular advancement device/splint (MAD or MAS). Our recommended Oral Device is, SomnoDent – effective for treating mild to moderate sleep Apnoea. This device is worn while you sleep and works to open your airway by bringing the lower jaw, tongue and associated soft tissue forward stopping it from collapsing during sleep. This appliance maintains the patency of your airway and thus greatly reduces or eliminates the snoring and apnoeic events.
When considering this form of snoring/sleep apnoea treatment it is very important to get a consultation and be fitted in an accredited dental clinic (like ours) with advanced training in sleep apnoea, and to return for regular visits to prevent any dental problems from occur. The appliances may also need periodical adjustment to help secure a better fit and ensure optimal efficiency.
Don’t wait to start getting help
If you think you or a loved one currently suffers from Sleep Apnoea or any other sleep condition and would like to receive snoring treatments at See The Dentist, please call us for a consultation on 9816 4885 or book online.