Sleep Is a Powerful Medicine
Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which a person experiences pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 49 million Americans suffer from it, with 85 percent going undiagnosed.
The Centers for Disease Control says that more than one-quarter of the population report not getting enough sleep at least occasionally, with 10 percent experiencing chronic insomnia. It has become so prevalent that the CDC has defined apnea as a national epidemic. Apnea impacts all aspects of life; a person could potentially lose 7 to 15 years of life if it’s not treated.
It’s literally life and death for some; it’s a quality of life issue for others that encompasses physical, financial, and emotional aspects. Getting sufficient sleep is a necessity and is considered a vital sign of good health. In the words of the 16th-century Elizabethan writer Thomas Dekker, “Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together.”
The body wants to repair itself but it but needs the right tools: water, exercise, and proper rest. Deep sleep, also referred to as slow-wave sleep, is the critical constructive phase of sleep required for recuperation of the mind-body system, the time during which it rebuilds itself each day. During deep sleep, growth hormones are secreted to facilitate the healing of muscles and the repair of tissue damage. Fragmented sleep, lack of deep sleep, and sleep apnea prevent this restorative rest.
The consequences of disrupted sleep
With one-third of all adults in the U.S. averaging less than seven hours of sleep nightly, it’s no wonder the CDC reports that insufficient sleep is associated with several chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. People who don’t get adequate sleep are at five times the average risk for dying from a heart attack, according to the 2014 American Academy of Sleep Medicine study. It is estimated that 90 of people who die in their sleep due to a heart attack do so because of obstructive sleep apnea.
Apnea puts people at four times the risk of having a stroke and two-and-a-half times the risk of developing cancer. They are seven times more likely to fall asleep while driving or operating heavy machinery. Five percent of people admit to falling asleep while driving, putting everyone at risk.
Thirty percent confess to falling asleep at work and 12 percent were late to work, costing businesses as much as $136 billion a year. These people are five times more likely to be fired or passed over for promotion as chronic lack of sleep impacts cognitive functions, leading to decreased performance, concentration, and memory.
Signs of sleep issues
Although 35 to 55 is commonly recognized as the typical age of onset of sleep apnea, people aged 18 to 33 can also suffer from it, and are often misdiagnosed. Genetics sometimes play a role.
The following symptoms may indicate a person has sleep apnea:
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight
- Memory loss
- Waking at night, especially if your heart is racing
- Daytime fatigue
- High blood pressure
- Snoring, which indicates a narrowed airway
- Gasping, coughing, or choking
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Acid reflux
- Low oxygen levels in the blood, which put people at higher risk of cancer
- Teeth grinding/TMJ
Many patients with apnea have TMJ because the body fights apnea by teeth grinding. It is estimated that 60 to 65 percent suffering from apnea also have TMJ.
The clenching and grinding of teeth and the popping and clicking of the jaw associated with TMJ often leads to headaches. Symptoms can become more severe if the jaw is pushed back toward the ear, Willey says, resulting in dizziness, hearing loss, ringing of the ears, sensitivity to light, a sore neck, and tingling in the fingers.
Apnea is a disease; it doesn’t go away. It can, however, be treated. The three treatment options include use of an appliance to hold the jaw forward to keep the airway open; use of CPAP, continuous positive airway pressure; or surgery.
Surgery has only a 30 to 50 percent success rate. It is often described as painful, difficult to recover from, and having a limited span of effectiveness. It should be considered the last resort.
CPAP, a mandibular repositioning appliance that uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open, isn’t much more effective because about 40 to 60 percent of patients fall out of treatment because the appliance is uncomfortable. Using CPAP as favorable treatment is problematic as they can leak, are claustrophobic, and have pressure points.
Fortunately, there is a relatively simple, non-invasive, and reversible dental solution to this medical condition. An oral appliance was developed in the early 1990s. After 15 years of development, it was introduced in 2006. It is now considered a first-line treatment for mild and moderate apnea and a good alternative to CPAP.
Approved by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Oral Appliance Therapy is a non-surgical, non-pharmacological option that has several advantages over other forms of therapy. Oral appliances are comfortable and easy to wear. The appliances are small, making it convenient to take along when traveling. They can be adjusted. Most patients report becoming acclimated to wearing them in a matter of weeks.
After diagnosis, the next step is to take custom impressions that are used to develop the unique appliance. Once the appliance has been properly adjusted, it takes about a month to get good sleep. A sleep test with appliance is later performed to prove its effectiveness. It’s imperative to get annual checkups, to ensure the device’s effectiveness.
What to do if you’re tired of suffering
Do you suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea or experience symptoms such as snoring, gasping, stopping breathing, morning headaches, daytime tiredness, weight gain, and jaw problems including pain, teeth grinding, and joint issues? Have you been recommended CPAP therapy but just don’t want to go through with it? If so, you are potentially risking your wellbeing and your life by not seeking treatment.
If anyone knows the impact of a good night’s sleep on a patient’s health, it’s Dr. Albert Capati, DMD. As a sleep apnea patient himself, he personally understands how disruptive the condition can be to everyday life. Combining his firsthand and medical knowledge of the condition, Dr. Capati specializes in treating sleep apnea by oral device. For Dr. Capati, treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is about not only changing lives. It’s about saving lives, too.
Don’t suffer any longer from untreated sleep and oral health symptoms. Offering safe and comfortable treatment options covered by most medical insurance, including Medicare, Koala Center for Sleep Disorders is located at 2061 Timberbrook Dr. in Springfield. Phone 217-717-8278 or visit Springfieldsleep.com to learn more about therapies that could resolve your symptoms and drastically improve your quality of life.
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