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Although it’s a common problem that affects more than 25 million American children and adults, sleep apnea can have a significant impact on your quality of life, health and ability to function normally during waking hours.
Most people who suffer from sleep apnea are unaware that they have this condition. One study by the National Institutes of Health estimated that only 16 percent of sleep apnea sufferers receive treatment.
Put simply, sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing during sleep due to a blocked airway. The airway can become obstructed by the tongue, excess tissue in the throat, obesity, nasal blockage or an enlarged vulva (tonsil). As a result, sleep apnea sufferers frequently snore.
People with sleep apnea may stop breathing multiple times during the night for periods of 10 seconds or longer. These interruptions in breathing can lower the body’s oxygen to dangerous levels, forcing the brain to abruptly wake you up so you can take a proper breath. Sometimes, the sufferer wakes up choking, gasping or coughing dozens of times during the night.
Because they don’t get a good night’s sleep, people with sleep apnea may feel drowsy or fatigued during the day or fall asleep at inappropriate times. When sleep-deprived, people also tend to become irritable or forgetful. Without proper REM sleep, the brain and body simply don’t function at a peak level.
People with sleep apnea can also experience the following symptoms:
- Poor concentration
- Weight gain
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Sinus problems
- Night sweats
So, if you are tired of being tired, we can help.
Dr. Riaz Rayek at Smiles at Fairfax Corner has completed extensive training and is qualified to treat sleep apnea using Oral Appliance Therapy. If you suspect you have this disorder, contact us at (703) 997-0928 for a consultation.
What Happens if Sleep Apnea Remains Untreated?
If sleep apnea is not diagnosed and treated, it can lead to severe health problems, including:
- Heart attack
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Memory problems
- Inability to concentrate
How Smiles at Fairfax Corner Treats Sleep Apnea
There are three types of sleep apnea. Frequently, a sleep study is needed to determine which type you have.
Obstructive sleep apnea
is an airway blockage caused by a genetic abnormality such as excessive tissue in the back of the tongue, throat or nose.
Central sleep apnea
results when the brain fails to send proper signals to muscles responsible for breathing.
Mixed sleep apnea
(also called complex sleep apnea) is diagnosed when both central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea are present.
Dr. Rayek offers a safe and effective sleep appliance for those suffering from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. The oral appliance resembles a sports mouth guard, and is comfortable to wear. This mouth guard keeps the airway open so you can sleep comfortably without repeatedly waking during the night.
If your sleep apnea is caused by your tongue resting on your airway, we can offer a tongue-retaining device that may be able to correct this problem.
If the position of your jaw is causing your sleep apnea, we may be able to treat this condition with headgear that is worn at night to adjust the position of the jaw.
All of these devices are an alternative to the more cumbersome Continuous Positive Airway Pressure treatment (CPAP), which requires wearing a mask during sleep.
People with severe sleep apnea, however, are generally not good candidates for oral appliances. CPAP treatment by a sleep specialist remains the standard treatment for these patients. Dr. Rayek can help you determine which treatment is right for you.
Call (703) 997-0928 to schedule a sleep apnea treatment consultation. We look forward to helping you get a good night’s sleep.