Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder and symptoms should not be ignored. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, around 22 million people suffer from sleep apnea. Without treatment, this condition can lead to many health complications that can impact the quality life. High blood pressure, chronic heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems are just a few of the health risks associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the most prevalent type of sleep apnea. It has also been shown to be associated with type 2 diabetes and depression.
Dr. William Harper is Board Certified in Dental Sleep Medicine and offers oral appliance therapy to his patients from Norfolk, VA who suffer from sleep apnea. While a medical doctor is needed to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), Dr. Harper works with many different physicians and will help you through of the process of getting a diagnosis and treatment.
About Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea sufferers completely stop breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times in a single night. Normal breathing ceases because muscles in the back of the throat relax causing the airway to collapse or close. The patient is momentarily unable to breathe thus cutting off oxygen to vital organs. The person will be unable to take in enough air essentially lower the amount of oxygen they need. The brain is able to sense that they are not breathing and will signal them to wake up to reopen their airway. This is often so brief that they do not know they are awakening. Yet the patient will feel extremely tired because of the bad quality of sleep.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Diagnosing a sleep disorder will typically involve your physician and/or other specialist as well as Dr. Harper. Your physician is the only medical professional that is qualified to diagnose you with sleep apnea. You will most likely need to undergo sleep testing to get an accurate diagnosis. X-rays and exams will also look for signs of a blockage in your airway. Most importantly, your medical team will review your medical history and discuss your symptoms. Common signs we look for include:
- Loud snoring (often pointed out by a sleeping partner)
- Suddenly gasping for air when sleeping
- Snorting or choking while sleeping
- Having a headache upon waking up
- Feeling very tired even after sleeping for an adequate amount of hours
- Having issues focusing or concentrating during the day
- Falling asleep often during the day
- Feeling depressed
- Unusual irritability
- Waking up to a dry mouth
Sleep Apnea Treatment
While the CPAP is the go-to standard treatment for sleep apnea, it has a very low compliance rate among patients. The majority of the complaints are that the CPAP is uncomfortable and obtrusive. Coastal Virginia Sleep Solutions focuses on treating patients from Norfolk, VA that are diagnosed with sleep apnea with oral appliances. They offer many types of appliances to fit your individual needs. Dr. Harper will work with you to find the appliance that will help you find relief from your sleep apnea symptoms. Your sleep appliance works by moving your jaw to a forward position to increase the size of the airway. This will reduce air resistance that leads to snoring and sleep apnea.