Patients in Las Vegas have treatment alternatives for sleep apneaPosted By Dr. Christopher Lim
Understanding OSADuring an episode of OSA, soft tissues of your throat collapse as you relax into sleep, and your tongue falls to the back of the mouth. Your airway becomes partially or fully blocked. You take shallow breaths or stop breathing for up to several minutes. The brain senses danger and sends a surge of adrenalin to shock you into wakefulness. You jolt awake, take a few normal breaths, and the process repeats – possibly hundred of times per night. Your brain, heart, and body are deprived of vital oxygen. That leads to elevated blood pressure and increased risk of a variety of systemic illnesses.
Vital cellular rejuvenation takes place during deep, restful sleep. The fitful sleep patterns of OSA keep you (and your bed mate) from enjoying the appearance and health benefits of proper rest.
OSA treatment optionsThose with OSA have a number of choices. Dr. Lim suggests beginning with the most natural, and progressing to more invasive methods only if and when necessary.
- Positional therapy – Sleeping on your side (instead of your back) reduces episodes for some patients with mild OSA. It’s worth a try.
- Nasal decongestant – Mild OSA can sometimes be lessened with an oral decongestant or nasal spray to improve airflow. Side effects of long term usage, however, may outweigh benefits.
- Weight loss – An estimated 70 percent of OSA sufferers are overweight or obese. It isn’t easy to accomplish, but weigh loss can dramatically improve snoring and OSA, and reduces risk of many other health problems.
- CPAP – Positive airway pressure devices hold the airway open with a constant flow of oxygen supplied by a compressor. CPAP is quite effective for the patient who can tolerate a bulky, noisy machine in the bedroom and sleeping with a face mask. In addition, some patients report skin sensitivity from the latex seal and chronic dry mouth and throat. Small wonder that the long term compliance rate is low.
- Surgery. This method involves attempting to identify and surgically remove portions of the upper airway that are restricting airflow. The success rate is about 50 percent, and carries usual risks of anesthetic and surgery. In many cases multiple procedures are required.
A fresh approach to OSA treatmentAre you left with the feeling that there has to be a better way to treat OSA. In most cases, there is – oral appliance therapy! This small, discreet device looks something like a mouth guard worn by an athlete. It fits comfortably, positioning jaw and tongue for maximum airflow during sleep.
Here’s a simple exercise to better understand how an oral appliance works. While making a snoring sound, thrust your jaw forward. This small change makes it virtually impossible to snore.
Once your sleep apnea has been properly diagnosed by a physician, it’s time for a call to Dr. Lim at Hillside Dental to discuss your best treatment options. The number is 702-666-8584.