Restore Your Sleep Today, Feel Better Tomorrow
If you’re struggling to get the same quality of sleep as you’ve had in the past, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Living with the condition can be difficult, and without the proper medical attention, it can lead to an array of adverse symptoms, and even death.
At Laser Smile Center in Odessa, TX, our team understands that sleep apnea can be confusing. For this reason, we’ve created this guide to educate you about its causes, symptoms, and how we can treat it.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder that affects 22 million Americans each year. Unfortunately, 80% of those people won’t seek the appropriate professional help and will remain undiagnosed and untreated.
While there are over 70 sleep disorders, sleep apnea is one of the most prevalent. It results in an obstruction in your airway that causes your breathing to pause while you’re sleeping. These pauses, which are often referred to as episodes, can last for several seconds to over a minute and can occur more than 30 times an hour.
When a sleep apnea episode happens, your blood oxygen levels will sink, forcing the brain to wake up and restart breathing. This condition has been linked to numerous health consequences, and it can make you tired, drowsy, irritated, and more.
The Symptoms & Causes of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea has been associated with diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and other diseases. You may have sleep apnea if you experience some of the following:
- Loud, recurring snoring.
- Daytime drowsiness or fatigue.
- Choking or gasping for air in your sleep.
- Neck size greater than 17 inches for a man and 16 inches for a woman
- Stopped breathing during sleep.
- Unexplained weight gain/trouble losing weight.
- High blood pressure.
- Heightened anxiety, depression or emotional issues.
- Acid reflux.
- History of stroke or heart attack.
- Falling asleep during the day when activity is low.
- Family history of sleep apnea
If you’re experiencing or are nervous about any of these symptoms, we encourage you to contact our office at 432-333-6169. A member of our friendly staff will help you schedule a consultation with our sleep specialist Dr. Mark Rangel.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Oral Appliance Therapy
Only a qualified physician can diagnose and prescribe treatment for sleep apnea. However, once you have a prescription, you can return to our office, and Dr. Rangel will create a one-of-a-kind CPAP alternative called an oral appliance.
Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is by far the most common and effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. It looks like an advanced sports mouthguard and is designed to sit comfortably in your mouth while you sleep.
OAT works in one of two ways — it either shifts your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open, or it will retain your tongue to prevent it from falling back into the throat.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the cause of the obstruction, Dr. Rangel will customize an oral appliance for your unique situation.
The Fotona laser NightLase® offers a fast, non-invasive way to reduce snoring and improve your quality of sleep. Dr. Rangel uses the gentle, superficial laser light to heat the tissue in the back of the mouth, causing them to tighten and create a more open airway for breathing during sleep.
NightLase® treatment for snoring and sleep apnea is completed over a six week period and typically involves three office visits. Anesthesia is not needed since the treatment is gentle. Results from treatment generally last up to a year and can be enhanced as needed with another round of treatment.
Some severe forms of apnea require more invasive treatments, procedures and surgeries. Set up a consultation to determine how we can help you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs at night when a person’s airway is restricted and prevents them from breathing properly. The pauses in their breath will make the sufferer wake up constantly throughout the night, oftentimes without them remembering, which completely alters their sleep.
Each apnea episode can happen anywhere between 5 to 100 times an hour which can make a person feel fatigued, irritable, and forgetful throughout the day. Finding treatment for sleep apnea can help improve a person’s sleep quality and reduce the risk of other health complications.
The most common symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring. The sleep disorder is also associated with other signs including:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Loud breathing
- Gasping for air
- Dry mouth/throat
- Frequent headaches
- Mood swings
Generally, sleep apnea is treated with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine that blows pressurized air through a mask to open a person’s throat and help them breathe properly through the night. Although an effective treatment, many CPAP users stop using their mask because it’s bulky, claustrophobic, loud, and inconvenient.
Here at Laser Smile Center, we offer alternatives to the CPAP that have been found to be more comfortable, convenient, and more effective. Dr. Rangel can create a customized oral appliance that is worn each night, similar to a sports mouthguard. He also offers Nightlase® therapy, a non-invasive treatment that reduces snoring and improves sleep patterns.
Common risk factors of sleep apnea include:
- Obese and overweight people
- Older adults
- Men are more commonly affected than women
- Narrow airway
- Nasal congestion
- Smoking tobacco
- Family history
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Leaving your sleep apnea untreated is dangerous for you and your health as it can affect different aspects of your body. By neglecting your sleep disorder, you can increase your risk for:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Kidney problems
- High blood pressure
- Sexual dysfunction
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