Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that can affect people of any age, but mostly adults. It occurs when the muscles in your throat relax and block the airway during sleep. This can cause snoring or gasping sounds while you sleep.
There are three types of sleep apnea; obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea. We have a dedicated page explaining those three. You can find them on our Sleep Apnea Information: Type and Risks page.
Treatment of sleep-disordered breathing conditions depends on the cause and severity of the apnea, so a complete diagnosis of your condition is required. Our sleep professionals will work closely with your physician and help them diagnose sleep apnea. You can also begin with an initial home diagnosis by taking the STOP questionnaire.
The most common cause of sleep apnea is blockage or restriction of the upper airways, called obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. It can be caused by a deviated nasal septum, enlarged tonsils, or a small lower jaw with an overbite that causes the throat to be abnormally narrow. Excessive weight also contributes to sleep apnea.
While the professional field of medical sleep has not found a cure for OSA, there are several effective sleep apnea treatments that help manage the symptoms, improve sleep patterns, and minimize long-term health risks.
CPAP therapy is the most popular and effective sleep apnea treatment. A comfortable mask is worn over the nose as you sleep, delivering a quiet and gentle airflow. The continuous airflow prevents the throat from collapsing and keeps the airway open.
A CPAP mask works by blowing pressurised air into your nose or mouth to keep your airways open. The CPAP machine inflates and deflates the mask at regular intervals throughout the night so that you don’t stop breathing while you’re asleep. CPAP therapy has been shown to reduce snoring and the number of pauses in breathing during sleep, as well as improve daytime alertness and mood.
Oral appliance therapy can be used to treat mild or moderate sleep apnea or for people who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy. These fitted oral appliances, or mandibular advancement devices, are worn during sleep to bring the lower jaw (mandible) slightly forward (advanced), preventing snoring and keeping the airway open. An oral appliance is one of the most preferred sleep apnea treatment options due to its comfort and eases to wear. Its size also makes it convenient to be carried when travelling.
Breathing is essential for living, which is why we tend to be more concerned with breathing at night than at other times. If a person has a disorder such as sleep apnea, they might have trouble breathing through their nose and mouth because of the way that their mouth and throat muscles relax during sleep.
There are several different types of appliances that work by holding the lower jaw forward and opening the space at the back of the throat to reduce airway blockage. There are removable appliances that can be taken out in the morning and fixed appliances that need to be removed by an oral health professional. If you have been prescribed an oral appliance you should make sure that it’s fitted for your mouth properly as it could lead to discomfort, pain, or difficulty breathing if not fitted correctly.
On average, people sleep for 26 years throughout their lives. This is the reason why the comfort and quality of your sleep cannot be neglected. Also, there are some health consequences if you fail on treating your obstructive sleep apnea. These include sleep deprivation, excessive daytime sleepiness, breathing difficulties, dry mouth in the morning, blood pressure problems, and heart disease.
If you are concerned about your sleeping quality or have more questions about your obstructive sleep apnea symptoms, you can learn more about it on our website or leave us a message via our contact page.