Here is a little known fact about me that not many people know. I had weight loss surgery back in the early 90’s. I had a Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass. I did lose almost 200 pounds in two years. Sadly my surgery came undone and I gained back 100 pounds.
There were many reasons why I had the surgery, aside from the obvious reasons (to look good and feel better about myself). I was Diabetic at the time, I had high blood pressure and I was suffering from sleep apnea, otherwise known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
If you are no familiar with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, it’s a condition that causes you to STOP BREATHING when you are sleeping. You can stop for as little as a few seconds to up to a minute. As you know, loss of oxygen (breathing) can be very dangerous.
Here is a scary fact – there are 12-18 MILLION adults here in the US alone that suffer from sleep apnea. That is just in this country. Can you imagine how many people around the world suffer?
Not breathing in your sleep can be life threatening. It even increases your risk of other deadly diseases;
- Congestive heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
Some people are not even aware that they have sleep apnea. Often you don’t realize that your body has stopped breathing. After all, you are sound asleep when it happens.
Some people are aware when they stop breathing. I know when I suffered from sleep apnea due to my morbid obesity I was able to wake myself up from time to time. It felt like someone put a pillow over my head and I couldn’t grasp for air. It’s a scary feeling.
Another symptom is something that effects a lot of people – loud, frequent snoring.
Does your spouse or significant other snore? Do they complain that you snore? If so, you might want to talk about it with your doctor to rule out the possibility of sleep apnea.
Sometimes people snore due to sinus issues (such as a cold or allergies). That doesn’t mean you have sleep apnea. That is why it’s best to speak with your doctor.
There are some things you can do to help with sleep apnea such as avoid using sleeping medications (like sleeping pills), don’t drink, quit smoking, eat healthy and nutritious foods, exercise and if you are overweight lose weight.
Sometimes it’s necessary to employ medical devices to help wit sleep apnea, especially in extreme or severe cases.
One option is to use a CPAP device. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a machine that blow air through a tube into your mouth via a mask that you have to wear at night. The air helps to keep your airway open.
This is a popular treatment, but frankly, I would hate to have to use it. I wouldn’t be able to get comfortable wearing a mask to bed every night, not to mention the sound of the machine. It’s bad enough trying to get comfortable wearing my wrist brace at night for my Carpal Tunnel.
Because the device is uncomfortable, many patients would rather deal with the sleep apnea than with the mask.
There is another option. It’s called Oral Appliance Therapy. This option employs a mouth guard-like device that helps to keep the mouth open and unobstructed when you are sleeping. The oral appliance (it kind of reminds me of the retainers my daughter wears) prevents the airway from collapsing by keeping the jaw in a forward position. There are actually more that 80+ different styles of oral appliance therapy devices that are approved by the FDA.
The oral device is more comfortable for most patients and therefore more people use them. They are more comfortable, easier to wear, quiet, easy to care for and portable. I couldn’t imagine trying to go on vacation and dragging along the CPAP machine and mask with me.
You cannot diagnose yourself with sleep apnea. You need to seek out a board certified sleep physician for proper diagnosis and treatment. Usually the testing is done while the patient sleeps in a special sleeping arrangement where the doctor can observe what happens throughouth the night.
Dentists are the ones who provide the treatment with the oral appliance therapy. They custom fit and adjust the device to make it comfortable for the patient. Thankfully this form of treatment is covered by medical insurance.
Here is a brief Q&A with B. Gail Demko, DMD, President of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, about the use of oral appliance therapy.
What is dental sleep medicine?
“Dental sleep medicine is the term we use to describe dentists who focus on managing their patient’s snoring and sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy (OAT).”
How did you get into dental sleep medicine?
“I became involved with dental sleep medicine as a hospital dentist more than 20 years ago when I was working with sleep physicians to help their patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.”
What is the process for a person to receive OAT?
“Patients interested in OAT should first see a sleep physician to be diagnosed with sleep apnea, if they haven’t already. Once diagnosed, they can then go online to LocalSleepDentist.com to find a dentist in their area who can help treat snoring and sleep apnea.”
How does OAT work?
“Oral appliances are very effective in treating sleep apnea because they maintain an open, unobstructed airway for patients. Depending on the patient’s needs, the device will either hold the tongue in place or support the jaw in a forward position to keep the patient’s airway open and provide a more refreshing sleep.”
Who does OAT work best for?
“We recommend oral appliances for patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and for those who can’t tolerate CPAP.”
How does OAT compare to CPAP?
“I’ve noticed that many patients find oral appliances more comfortable to sleep with at night and appreciate the ease with which they can travel when using an oral device, as opposed to the larger CPAP units.”
What has your OAT experience been with your patients?
“Many of my patients have found more restful sleep and an improved quality of life since starting oral appliance therapy.”
There are so many different types of oral appliances – which one is best?
“There are more than 80 different FDA-approved oral appliances. Sleep dentists identify the right one to treat their patient’s unique needs.”
What are the side effects of OAT?
“Potential side effects of OAT are generally mild in nature and improve within a few weeks. They may include excessive salivation, muscle and tooth discomfort and occasional joint discomfort. Major adverse effects of OAT are uncommon but can include slight tooth movement, permanent changes in a patient’s bite, ongoing muscle soreness or loosening of dental restorations.”
What is AADSM?
“The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine is a non-profit organization of more than 2,800 dental professionals worldwide that treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in their patients.”
If you would like to learn more, or if you or someone you love suffers from loud and frequent snoring, talk to your doctor and visit www.LocalSleepDentist.com to find a local dentist trained in oral appliance therapy.
I have a special giveaway to help a lucky reader get a good night’s sleep. One reader will received a $50 gift card to Bath & Body Works, compliments of the sponsor. Bath & Body Works has a lot of wonderful products to help you get a good night’s sleep from calming and soothing body washes, shower gels and bubble baths to aromatic room sprays. Check out their Sleep Lavender Vanilla line. It’s wonderful!
This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on November 2, 2013 at 11:59 PM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via e-mail and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.
To enter please comment on this post and share with my your experiences with snoring and/or sleep apnea. Do you or someone you love suffer from it? OR comment on this post and tell me something you found interesting from this post.
For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries won’t qualify (I do check). Extra entries are optional.
*I am receiving a similar prize package in exchange for my participation. There was no other compensation. The opinions expressed are my own unless otherwise noted and were not influenced in any way.