Sleep apnea: it’s more than snoring, though that’s often how it starts. In the most severe cases, the central nervous system’s attempts to get oxygen to result in several periods of wakefulness through the night. Most people don’t realize they are waking up so much or how little sleep they are getting. But ongoing apnea results in “daytime somnolence,” which is the inability to stay awake during the day and can cause auto or machinery accidents. In addition, the lack of oxygen and restorative sleep can lead to heart problems, high blood pressure, and the inability to lose weight.
The bottom line is that sleep apnea must be treated in order for you to expect to have a good quality of life.
Before you can be treated for sleep apnea, you have to have a diagnosis, which means an appointment for a sleep study. The study can take place at a doctor’s office/lab that is designed like a bedroom. Several monitoring systems will be used to monitor everything from your breathing and oxygen levels to brain activity and heart rate.
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of going to a sleep lab or don’t have one nearby, your doctor and insurance may allow you to have an at-home sleep study kit. Within a week or so, you’ll get your results from the sleep doctor and find out if you have sleep apnea, how bad it is, and what you can do about it!
For more than twenty years, the standard treatment for patients with sleep apnea has been a Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machine. This machine continually pushes air into the lungs, keeping the airway from collapsing. Bi-Pap is a similar machine that offers two levels of air pressure. Both are effective, but also bulky and inconvenient. They run on electricity and require sleeping with a mask over your nose and mouth.
More recently other options have become available:
Surgery: Going “under the knife” for airway to modify your airway or to implant a nerve stimulator are two options. But surgery can be expensive and isn’t always covered under your insurance plan.
EPAP Covers: Disposable nasal covers create positive air pressure during sleep. This is one of the newer advances in treatment and is not frequently covered by medical insurance. Unlike the CPAP, it’s a disposable device that requires a new box every month.
Oral Sleep Appliances: Custom made to fit your mouth, an oral sleep appliance moves your jaw forward just enough to prevent your airway from closing during sleep. It’s small enough to fit in a pocket and doesn’t need electricity. Because it’s custom, it fits and works better than a “boil and bite” guard. Plus, it’s discreet and portable.
Apnea Treatment in Raleigh, NC
Dr. Agarwal is proud to offer oral sleep appliances to help you fight your apnea problem and get a good night’s sleep. Ask your physician or pulmonologist if an oral appliance is right for you. If it is, contact Raleigh Dental Arts for your sleep appliance consultation!