Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.

There are two main types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.

Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center.

Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, even children. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Being male
  • Being overweight
  • Being over age 40
  • Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
  • Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
  • Having a family history of sleep apnea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
  • Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems

If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Worsening of ADHD

In addition, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes, and academic underachievement in children and adolescents.

A sleep study is necessary to diagnose the presence of sleep apnea and also to determine the severity of the disorder. Sleep apnea is given a rating of mild to severe by an index that takes into account the number of non-breathing episodes and also the oxygen level fluctuations in the blood during the night.

The standard of care for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. It is a facemask device that when applied inflates the airway like a balloon and keeps it open so that breathing may occur freely and without obstruction. While effective, patients find the device bulky and uncomfortable. In addition, it is not very portable and patients that routinely travel find it cumbersome to bring with them.

For those patients who have mild to moderate OSA, an alternative treatment that has been found to be effective is the Mandibular Repositioning Appliance (MRA). There are many different designs of MRA’s but they all function in the same manner by pulling the lower jaw, tongue, and soft tissue forward and opening up the airway. These devices are portable, comfortable and non-invasive in their treatment of OSA.

Drs. Kasperowski and their team are skilled and experienced in the precision manufacture of many of the more popular devices like the Somnodent, TAP3, and Silent Nite. They will ensure the proper fit and teach you how to use and care for your appliance.

Call us today and find out how we can help you to manage your sleep apnea and regain a restful night sleep.