Snoring And Sleep Apnea
Snoring is produced by vibration of the loose tissue at the back of the throat. Snoring is very common in adults for both men and women. Generally snoring doesn’t pose a problem for the person who is doing the snoring, but for other people who hear it.
Sleep Apnea is a condition that occurs in people who snore, and is defined by the presence of several episodes per hour where breathing does not occur and oxygen levels drop. Sleep Apnea contributes to high blood pressure because the heart has to work harder which can ultimately lead to heart disease. Patients with Sleep Apnea often complain of daytime fatigue and drowsiness, which can be dangerous in a number of common daily activities such as driving.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea can only be diagnosed by a proper sleep study at a qualified lab. No matter how bad the snoring may seem it may not necessarily be an indication of Sleep Apnea. The sleep study involves an over-night stay at the lab where you will be hooked up to many electrodes that monitor muscle movements and oxygen levels. You’ll need to be asleep for at least 4 hours for the test to be accurate.
For mild cases, your snoring and Sleep Apnea can be treated with a dental appliance which holds your jaw forward creating tension on the tissue at the back of your throat. This holds your airway open and prevents snoring. The appliance has an upper and lower component attached by vertical struts which allow adjustment of the lower jaw.
For moderate and severe Sleep Apnea you may require treatment with a CPAP machine which holds your airway open with continuous air pressure. Air is drawn into a tube that you wear on your nose. This treatment will be directed and administered by the sleep lab and is the only 100% effective treatment for Sleep Apnea. In addition to the CPAP or possibly in place of the CPAP machine, one of the most common recommendations is weight loss.
Losing weight reduces the amount of tissue in the throat which can obstruct the airway and cause snoring. Once the sleep lab has controlled your Sleep Apnea you can try an oral appliance if the CPAP is cumbersome. However, you will need to have a follow-up sleep study to confirm that the Sleep Apnea can be controlled by the appliance.
How Effective Are The Appliances?
The oral appliances are quite effective for reducing snoring. The appliance is designed to allow for changes in the lower jaw, and if snoring continues with the appliance further adjustments usually solve the problem.
How Comfortable Are The Appliances?
As far a comfort goes, there is no getting around the fact that there is something in your mouth, and that takes some getting used to. Most patients take a few weeks to become accustomed to the appliance. Motivation comes from other people in the house that will sleep more soundly without hearing any snoring. It also comes from feeling well rested the next day in the case of Sleep Apnea.