Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition. People with sleep apnea are several times more likely to die early than people without it. The potential causes are numerous–heart attack, stroke, surgical anaesthesia complications, car accidents, for a few examples—but they all tie into one root cause: sleep apnea. Unfortunately, more than 80% of people with this condition don’t know they have it, often until it’s too late. Fortunately, if sufferers can be diagnosed, there are numerous sleep apnea treatment options that can dramatically reduce risks.
If you live in the Sydney area and are unsure whether you have sleep apnea, or if you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are looking for a comfortable alternative treatment, we can help. Please call (02) 9686 7375 or email us today to schedule an appointment at our office in Baulkham Hills, NSW today.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your body momentarily stops breathing while you sleep. To resume breathing, your brain must awaken partially. Not enough that you are generally aware of it, so, though it may happen hundreds of times a night, you may not be aware of it.
There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. In obstructive sleep apnea, by far the most common kind, your airway collapses when you sleep and the muscles that hold your throat open relax. Men are more likely to suffer from this condition, especially if they are overweight, and the anatomy of the throat plays an important role.
In central sleep apnea, your brain just stops telling your body to breathe. To resume breathing, your brain has to wake up and send the signal again.
It is possible to have both types simultaneously.
How to Know If You Have Sleep Apnea
The only way to diagnose sleep apnea is to have a health professional evaluate the results of a sleep test, which looks at your breathing, oxygen levels, and more.
But should you have a sleep test? If you have the following symptoms, you should get a sleep test to diagnose or eliminate sleep apnea as a potential cause:
- Daytime fatigue
- Loss of focus, memory, or motivation
- Sudden onset of irritability, short temper, depression or other mood disorders
- Falling asleep when watching TV, reading, or performing sedentary tasks like driving
- An inability to lose weight despite dieting and exercise
- Diagnosis of high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or some other conditions
- Snoring that stops in a choking or gurgling sound
These are common signs of sleep apnea.
CPAP Sleep Apnea Treatment and Its Alternatives
CPAP, continuous positive airway pressure, has long been the gold standard of sleep apnea treatment. It can treat mild, moderate, and severe sleep apnea, of all types. The only problem is CPAP can be loud, uncomfortable, and inconvenient to travel with. More than half of all CPAP users end up discontinuing their sleep apnea treatment because they can’t tolerate CPAP. For these people, a CPAP alternative is critical.
Oral appliance therapy is a comfortable alternative for people who have tried and cannot tolerate CPAP machines for obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy works at night while you sleep, repositioning your jaw to help keep your airway open. It can treat mild to moderate sleep apnea.
For some people, lifestyle modifications, such as losing weight and reducing the amount of alcohol you consume in the evening, may be enough to control sleep apnea.