Tag Archives: sleep apnea

My wife things I have sleep apnea.

Yes, I snore. Does that mean I have sleep apnea? My wife keeps accusing me of it.

– Paul in Texas

Paul,

Did you know that 50-70 million Americans suffer from sleeping disorders, like sleep apnea? Snoring can be an indicator that you may have sleep apnea and serious sleep apnea can actually be life threatening. So it’s worth your while to find out if you do.  Individuals with sleep apnea stop breathing for a short duration while they are sleeping. Since your body is in such a relaxed state during sleep, the muscles are also relaxed, including your throat and tongue. In this state, the tongue can impinge on your breathing passageway and disturb your breathing. You may have not idea and often times it is a spouse that discovers this.

Here are some common symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Loud snoring
  • Waking suddenly for no reason
  • Gasping for breath or a choking feeling
  • Waking multiple times
  • Feeling sleepy during the day
  • Dry mouth

A sleep study is required in order to properly diagnose this condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. Then once it has been diagnosed, you can seek treatment with a sleep clinic or a dentist can treat you. Treatments are wide-ranging, but going the dentist route would allow you to treat your sleep apnea without surgery with an appliance worn during the night. These oral appliances reposition the jaw into a more favorable position to keep the breathing passage open.

Physicians often prescribe a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Device (CPAP) machine. Many patients aren’t happy with having to wear the respiratory  device that blows compressed air. But it is important to explore your options to find a solution that is right for you.

Again, your wife is right to worry. Sleep apnea that is left untreated leads to increased risk in stroke, heart attack, hypertension, and other serious conditions.

This post is sponsored by Newton MA cosmetic dentist Ultimate Aesthetics.

If I have sleep apnea can I fly with my CPAP?

I have to take a business trip which isn’t out of the ordinary. But since my last trip, I have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. The doctor has issued me a CPAP machine and I just can’t figure out how I will carry this thing on board. I want to have it with me. Do you have any advice because I don’t want to be heard snoring like crazy and I refuse to check it.

– Will in Maryland

Will,

You are allowed to travel with your CPAP machine even though it feels like a major inconvenience. As a carry-on item it will need to be screened and checked by the airport security. One thing to consider is to bring sanitizing wipes along with you because the screening area at the airport is likely unsanitary.

The main thing you need to consider because you have obstructive sleep apnea is that there is a power outlet available near your seat. Also, make sure you travel with the correct adapter. If possible, make these arrangements ahead of time by contacting your airline. This will save you time and frustration the day of your flight. With heightened security, you may also have difficulty carrying on distilled water for the machine. So you would be wise to travel with the prescription from your physician. This way you will be able to travel with distilled water in a pharmaceutical grade bottle.

If your travel picks up again and you want to alleviate lugging around the bulky, loud CPAP, talk to your doctor or visit a dentist that is experienced in treating sleep apnea. A dentist may be able to fit you for an oral appliance which you simply pop into your mouth before you fall asleep. It is customized to fit your mouth and moves your jaw into a more favorable position. This appliance keeps your airway unobstructed during sleep. This will save you a lot of hassle and will eliminate the need for the CPAP for travel and in many cases, patients prefer the oral appliance and stop using the CPAP altogether.

But if you are uncomfortable leaving the CPAP behind, be sure to plan ahead to avoid any complications.

This post is sponsored by Newton MA dentist Dr. Steve Bader at Ultimate Aesthetics.

Is sleep apnea serious?

My husband snores so loud that it wakes me up at night. He has done this our whole marriage, over 15 years now. How do I know if he has sleep apnea? How serious is this condition?

– Jennifer in Texas

Jennifer,

Snoring is more than just an annoyance. It can be one of the symptoms that an individual may have sleep apnea. In addition to snoring, if an individual is fatigued or sleepy during the day or startles awake at night, these could also be indicators of sleep apnea.

What happens when you fall asleep is that your entire body is in a relaxed state. This also includes your tongue. When your tongue is relaxed there are vibrations on the soft tissues that occur and that is what snoring is. But in some cases, the tongue can actually impinge upon the breathing passage. When this happens, it is considered sleep apnea. An individual with sleep apnea will wake up when the blockage occurs and then fall back asleep. This constant interruption in the sleep-wake cycle can leave the person feeling extremely tired.

To answer the second part of your question, yes, sleep apnea is a very serious condition. In fact, it can be life threatening if it is left untreated. Other serious side effects are weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart problems.

There are different treatment plans available to take care of this problem. A sleep study is typically a first step in an individual’s diagnosis. Then a prescription can be written by a  physician for a method of treatment. The CPAP machine is a common suggestion, but many people hate wearing it. They complain that it is uncomfortable and loud, making it difficult to sleep. There are surgeries that will remedy the disorder, but there are dentists out there that treat sleep apnea with a mandibular oral appliance. This is becoming a popular choice because it is non-surgical, very comfortable, and removable. Thousands of people have successfully stopped snoring using these mouthpieces that reposition the jaw to keep the airway open.

Visit with your dentist to see if they can recommend you to a cosmetic dentist or sometimes a TMJ dentist that may be able to treat you using this method.

This post is sponsored by Newton MA cosmetic dentist Ultimate Aesthetics.

My husband will NOT use the CPAP to help his sleep apnea!

I’m scared that my husband is going to stop breathing because he absolutely is refusing to use his CPAP machine. He has been diagnosed with sleep apnea and ultimately I think he is embarrassed of it and he said it is really uncomfortable. I keep telling him about the potential for terrible health issues that could happen, but he doesn’t seem to care. He is also diabetic, which is worrisome to me as well. Basically, when he gets home from work, he falls asleep on the couch for a couple hours before dinner. Then he wonders why he’s up until after midnight? He’s up and out the door for work before 5:00am. Then on the weekend he is so hard to wake up, he would probably sleep for 18 hours if I didn’t wake him. Do you have any advice on how to get through to him? I’m very worried!

– Denice in Oregon

Denice,

From what you have described, it sounds like you understand the true severity of the situation, even if your husband doesn’t. If hour husband has already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, he should be well aware how this condition left untreated can be life threatening. But there are many people that refuse to wear the CPAP machine because of complaints about the noise and how uncomfortable it is to sleep in.

Did you know that there are dentists out there that are trained to treat sleep apnea. A mandibular advancement appliance may be something that he would consider, if you’ve never heard of this treatment. It is a mouthpiece that is worn at night and it is much more comfortable than the bulky CPAP. This appliance repositions the jaw into a more favorable position that keeps the airway open. It’s definitely worth a try for your sanity and also for your husband’s health.

Good luck!

This post is sponsored by Newton MA cosmetic dentist Ultimate Aesthetics.