Sleep Apnea

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Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder that blocks your airway while you sleep, impacting your ability to breathe freely. It usually occurs when the tongue collapses back into the airway, obstructing oxygen flow.

Your brain will automatically wake you up every time your breathing is interrupted, but most patients have no recollection of their sleep apnea episodes the following day. This pattern can repeat several times in just one night, dramatically reducing your blood oxygen level and preventing you from feeling refreshed in the morning.

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Sleep Apnea Relief

It’s estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Beyond impairing your sleep, this condition has been linked to several harmful complications, including strokes, diabetes, and more.

If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Learn more about our exciting sleep apnea solutions, including our alternatives to CPAP.

Using a CPAP Machine

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure, and a CPAP machine pumps pressurized air into the breathing passage through a mask that’s worn over your face while you sleep. This prevents obstructions in the airway that are characteristic of sleep apnea.

Though CPAP is effective when you use it every night, many patients stop using their CPAP machine because it can be unpleasant to wear your mask night after night. The machine also makes a loud noise that can be very disruptive, and that’s why the long-term compliance rate for CPAP is meager.

Why Patients Stop Using CPAP

There are several reasons patients quit using CPAP. Some of the most common complaints include:

  • The mask is awkward to wear
  • The machine is too loud
  • It forces you to sleep on your back
  • Traveling with the device is inconvenient
  • You must reattach your CPAP mask every time you get up at night

Alternative Treatments for Sleep Apnea

As an alternative to CPAP, Sage can provide an oral appliance that we customize for a perfect fit. Also known as a mandibular advancement device (MAD), this appliance gently shifts your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open, allowing you to breathe without interruption.

Unlike CPAP, oral appliances are quiet, convenient, and easy to take wherever you go. They also allow you to sleep in any position. With the help of an oral appliance, you’ll be able to sleep soundly through the night without sacrificing comfort.


Testing for Sleep Apnea

The only way to determine if you have sleep apnea is to take a sleep test. A sleep test can be administered in a controlled setting known as a sleep center, though many of our patients prefer to take their sleep test in the comfort of their own home using a take-home monitor.

Once your test is complete, a sleep physician will evaluate the results and provide you with an accurate diagnosis and a prescription for sleep apnea care.

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Do You Suffer from Sleep Apnea?

There are several common warning signs to watch out for, but the only way to know if you have sleep apnea is to take a sleep test. You may have sleep apnea if you’re a heavy snorer and are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Daytime fatigue
  • Lack of motivation
  • Loud, disruptive snoring
  • Gasping or choking sounds while you sleep
  • Sudden mood shifts
  • Memory problems
  • Waking up with a headache or dry mouth
  • Decreased libido

Types of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of the disorder. It causes the muscles at the back of the throat to relax and block your airway, interfering with your ability to breathe while sleeping.

Central sleep apnea is less common than OSA and requires a different treatment approach. In this form of sleep apnea, your brain fails to communicate the proper signals to the muscles that control your lungs, causing you to stop breathing.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

As you age, the risk of developing sleep apnea will increase. Men are significantly more likely to suffer from the condition than women

Other risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Excess weight
  • Large neck circumference
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Nasal congestion

Consequences of Untreated Sleep Apnea

Without treatment, sleep apnea can lead to significant consequences for your overall health. Common complications linked to sleep apnea include heart disease, diabetes, liver problems, and strokes. It’s essential to seek treatment as early as possible to avoid these potentially life-threatening issues.

In addition to damaging your physical health, sleep apnea can also affect your mental health, PTSD, and exasperating anxiety disorders. When you’re not getting enough sleep daily, you start to feel tired and unmotivated. This can often contribute to depression, cause irritability, and decrease self-esteem.


Your Treatment Options

When a patient is diagnosed with sleep apnea, the first treatment prescribed is typically CPAP. This machine pumps a continuous stream of pressurized air through a mask worn over your face, keeping your airway open while you sleep.

Though CPAP is effective when worn correctly, many patients find it unpleasant to use it every night and frequently stop using their CPAP machine altogether.

If you’re struggling with CPAP, you may be able to treat your sleep apnea symptoms using an oral appliance. This small device gently shifts your lower jaw forward to prevent your tongue from falling back into the airway. That way, you’ll be able to breathe freely throughout the night.

To help manage your sleep apnea symptoms, your doctor may also suggest some moderate changes to your behavior. This can involve altering your diet, getting more exercise, and taking measures to adjust your sleep position.

CPAP Alternative FAQs

Is there an alternative to a CPAP machine for sleep apnea? Yes, oral appliances are a viable alternative to CPAP machines for many people. Oral appliances can be just as effective as CPAP for sleep apnea, and they can also help stop snoring. These devices are smaller, and they’re created custom for your mouth, so they’re more comfortable. Oral appliances are easier to travel with, and they won’t take up much room in your luggage or bedroom.

Can sleep apnea be cured naturally? Many people will find that the most effective treatment for sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. But if a CPAP machine is not for you, discuss with your healthcare provider about natural sleep apnea remedies such as exercise, weight loss, positional therapy, orofacial therapy, elimination of smoking, and avoiding alcohol and certain medications before bed.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms &
Health Risk FAQs

What are the common symptoms of sleep apnea? Snoring is a frequent sign of sleep apnea, but not everyone who snores suffers from the sleep condition. Common sleep apnea symptoms include daytime fatigue, irritability, morning headaches, restless sleep, and dry mouth.

Who’s at a higher risk for sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is typically seen in older adults and males. Younger people and women still can suffer from this sleep disorder, but it’s not as common. Additionally, overweight, and obese people, smokers, excessive alcohol drinkers, and someone with a family history of the condition might be at a higher risk for sleep apnea.

What if I don’t seek treatment for my sleep apnea? Untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious health consequences like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, strokes, and more. That’s why it’s crucial to get the correct diagnosis and start sleep apnea treatment as soon as possible.