OSA or Obstructive Sleep Apnea affects billions of people all over the globe, with most of those affected not even aware they are suffering from the disorder.
What is OSA?
According to Orange County Dentist and preferred oral appliance therapy provider Dr. Jack Ringer, Obstructive Sleep Apnea affects the airways, and although there isn’t a clear cause, some are more at risk than others.
People who are affected with sleep apnea may be tired and irritable, grumpy and depressed. If you have sleep apnea, you may suffer from daytime fatigue putting you at risk when you are behind the wheel.
If you have sleep apnea, your breathing passageway will relax when you sleep. This causes your airways to close preventing you from taking a breath. People with OSA may have sleep interruptions 30 times per hour, but unless you have a bed partner, you may not be aware that you are gasping for breath. If you are not breathing for 10 seconds or more, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor for a sleep study.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
People who have been diagnosed with OSA are obese or overweight. Researchers believe that carrying too much weight can cause fatty deposits around the airways, which could cause obstruction while you sleep. Even if you gain an additional 10 percent, you are increasing the odds when it comes to Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Large Adenoids or Tonsils
According to Dr. Ringer, one of the most common causes of airway obstruction in children is enlarged adenoids or tonsils. The tonsils are located at the back of your throat and are clusters that represent the immune and lymphatic tissue. Your adenoids are the same, but located at the back of your nose. Children and adults with tonsil and adenoid problems are less likely to function properly during the day, and may suffer from low energy.
In a recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine it was discovered that children who had their adenoids or tonsils removed showed an improvement in Obstructive Sleep Apnea symptoms.
If you have a large overbite, which means your upper teeth are covering your lower teeth by over 50 percent, you’re at risk. Your chances of OSA are increased as it can cause snoring. Breathing through the mouth is also common with an excessive overbite.
Because your lower jaw sits further back it can cause your upper airways to narrow when you sleep. Ask Dr. Ringer about your excessive overbite, as there may be another alternative to maxillomandibular advancement or overbite surgery.
OSA could be caused by a deviated septum. A disorder of your nose, your septum is the cartilage and bone that is in the middle of your nose separating the left and right passages. A deviated nasal septum is usually caused by some sort of trauma such as a hit in the face. Once the septum has healed, it can deviate to the left or right. Many people who have had a deviated symptom experience little or no symptoms, while some complain of snoring, nosebleeds, congestion, or Obstructive Sleep Apnea. See your doctor if your deviated septum is causing OSA.
Women suffering from menopause, menopause occurring after a woman has not had a period in a year, could cause Obstructive Sleep Apnea. During menopause, a woman will constantly experience lower levels of progesterone and estrogen. Both of these sex hormones help regulate and promote a good night’s sleep. It comes as no surprise that people who suffer from lower levels of estrogen and progesterone will have trouble sleeping.
One study indicated that low levels of estrogen could affect the center of the brain that controls breathing. Patients with OSA have the same problem. If you are menopausal and suspect you may be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea see your doctor for a sleep study referral.
If you have a large neck, anything over 17”, you could be in the high-risk category for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. People with large necks have problems breathing at night because their pathways are restricted.
The Problem with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
If you don’t seek treatment for your OSA, you could be putting your health at risk. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to:
What Can You Do About Sleep Apnea?
In the past, patients diagnosed with OSA had to resort to an uncomfortable CPAP machine for a good night’s sleep. Thankfully, modern medical and dental technology has made it possible to breathe easy without a machine.
Dr. Ringer is a licensed and preferred oral appliance dentist who can fit you with a custom made mouth guard to help you breathe and sleep better. Unlike a CPAP, you will actually get used to wearing your new oral appliance.
If you have been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or think you may be suffering contact your doctor and ask about oral appliance therapy. It really will help you sleep better.