Simply put, sleep apnea is a tricky health problem. Your routine seems straightforward enough – you head to bed, close your eyes, and drift off to dreamland. But when you wake up, it feels like you’ve pulled an all-nighter instead. Many confused patients simply try to power through their chronic exhaustion with lots and lots of caffeine – and there are millions of them all over the country! In fact, more than 25 million American suffer from sleep apnea, and that number will likely only increase as more years go by.
If you’ve ever wondered what sleep apnea is, what its symptoms are, and if you might be an unwilling victim of it, look no further than this page. Dr. Michel and the rest of our team are here to help, and we’d be happy to welcome you in soon for a consultation at either our Silver Lake or Topeka, KS location. Contact us today!
Sleep apnea occurs when a person experiences temporary lapses of breathing while they’re in a state of rest. These lapses typically only last for seconds, but they can occur dozens or even hundreds of times each hour, which fractures deep sleep. As a result, the person doesn’t achieve the regenerative rest they need to function at a high level the following day.
When your breath is cut off, a few different consequences happen in quick succession. The brain will essentially start to panic, which raises blood pressure. This heightened level may even linger after breathing returns to normal, which results in a higher risk of related diseases like strokes and heart attacks. Then, an emergency signal jolts the person to wake up in order to properly restore respiration. These interruptions are so brief that most people don’t even remember them in the morning – but the body does.
There are two major distinctions of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA).
OSA is by far the more common variation, and it’s directly caused by a partial or full blockage of the airway due to an overrelaxed throat and/or the collapse of soft tissue in the airway. There are several bodily factors that can contribute to the risk of developing OSA, such as having large tonsils, an overly thick neck, or even a chronic stuffy nose. Obesity is another common risk factor because fatty tissue around the throat tends to make the area narrower and more likely to close off during sleep.
Meanwhile, CSA is a pure neurological issue. Simply put, the brain doesn’t properly signal the patient’s body to breathe while they’re unconscious. CSA can occur because of several different health conditions, from strokes, kidney/heart failure, and even the regular use of opiates.
While no two cases are exactly alike, patients who regularly experience the following symptoms may be suffering from sleep apnea:
The temporomandibular joint (also known as the TMJ) facilities essential movements of the jaw, allowing patients to open and close their mouths, speak, eat, and even yawn. Unfortunately, circumstances like jaw injuries, misaligned bites, and even the onset of arthritis can lead to temporomandibular disorders, or TMD. What many patients don’t realize is that a significant number of TMD sufferers are also experiencing sleep apnea. When the airway collapses, the body is likely to push the lower jaw forward unconsciously in order to try to clear it again. This constant motion can cause a great deal of stress and tension in the TMJ night after night, which is why these two painful and exhausting disorders are likely to go hand-in-hand.
Thankfully, Dr. Michel has years of experience and specialty training in not only dental sleep medicine, but the non-surgical treatment of temporomandibular joint dysfunction as well. In fact, he’s been successfully alleviating TMJ disorder cases for over 30 years and counting! This unique intersection of expertise allows him to seamlessly integrate the two types of treatment so that patients can achieve lasting, pain-free relief.
First, you’ll need to visit a physician, who will ask about your symptoms and when they began. (If you have a partner or a roommate, ask them whether they’ve heard you snore loudly or make choking noises while asleep.) They can then help you arrange a sleep study, which can be done at a sleep center or in your own home. These tests will measure your brain waves, heartbeat, breathing and movement during the night. This will help us narrow down whether or not you’re suffering from sleep apnea or another kind of sleep disorder.
Are you concerned that you may be a victim of untreated sleep apnea? Please contact us or your general physician as soon as possible. An easy way to get started is to complete the STOP-BANG Assessment, which allows our team to evaluate your overall risk with the help of a few cut-and-dry questions. If we determine that the taker of the quiz likely suffers from sleep apnea, we can help them proceed to using an at-home sleep test that monitors their breathing patterns throughout the night. The results from this test should then lead to a proper diagnosis.
If a patient is officially diagnosed with sleep apnea, the next question is “what’s the best way to treat it?” CPAP therapy has been used for many years, which involves wearing a facial or nasal mask that’s connected to an air pump. However, many patients find it too uncomfortable to use on a regular basis. That’s where Dr. Michel comes in!
If you have mild to moderate OSA and/or have proven intolerant to CPAP use, our team can provide a custom oral appliance. This basically works like a small mouthguard that helps keep the airway safely open as you rest peacefully. Most patients find this therapy option much more convenient and pleasant! Visit this page to learn more.
After chronic fatigue, loud snoring is one of the most common indicators of sleep apnea. Far too many people simply write it off as an annoying habit their spouse or roommate has – but don’t ignore it! While snoring isn’t necessarily a surefire sign of sleep apnea, it does mean that they may not be sleeping very well. Plus, chronic snorers do have an elevated risk of developing sleep apnea in the future. Thankfully, custom oral appliance therapy can also help these patients, improving not only the quality of their own rest, but the rest of everyone who sleeps in close proximity too.
Sleep apnea therapy is actually billed through medical insurance, and most plans do offer some form of full or partial coverage for both CPAP machines and oral appliances. At Sleep Solutions by Michel Dental, our knowledgeable team can help you navigate your personal benefits and maximize deserved reimbursements so that affording the ideal sleep apnea treatment is stress-free.
Sleep apnea can have severe, lasting consequences for your health, your personality, and your quality of life – so why put up with it any longer than you have to? Effective treatment is readily available here in Silver Lake and Topeka, KS. Contact Dr. Michel today!