Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition. In sleep apnea, your breathing stops briefly while you sleep, forcing you to waken briefly. This may happen hundreds of times a night, so you never get the rest you need. Because it happens during sleep, you may have this condition and not be aware of it. As much as 80% of people with it aren’t, although we hope to spread awareness and bring that number down. This condition has the potential to disrupt all the systems in your body, leading to disastrous consequences.
If you have or suspect you have sleep apnea, it’s critical that you get tested and treated. We try to make this as convenient as possible, with home sleep tests and a noninvasive, nonsurgical alternative to CPAP here in Anchorage. To learn if this is right for you, please call today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at Denali Dental Care.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Do you have sleep apnea? The only way to tell for sure is with a sleep test, but there are some symptoms that you (and others) can watch for that might give clues.
You might notice these symptoms:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Falling asleep during mundane tasks
- Feeling unrested when you wake in the morning
- Difficulty with memory or focus
- Waking up frequently to urinate
- Dry mouth in the morning
- Morning headaches
But you also need to be aware of observations people who sleep in the same room or house with you might make. If people say you:
- Snore loudly
- Make a gasp or choke during sleep
- Stop breathing while asleep
- Sleep restlessly
You might have sleep apnea. You should also be aware that if your doctor diagnoses you with:
- High blood pressure
- Coronary artery disease
- Sexual dysfunction
- Low testosterone
- Depression and other mood disorders
You may be at risk for sleep apnea. Sometimes, these are misdiagnoses–some of these conditions are mistaken for sleep apnea. Other times, these conditions are related to or caused by it.
If you have these symptoms or conditions, it’s important to talk to your doctor about sleep apnea or talk to a sleep dentist who can recommend a home sleep test.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is diagnosed by a sleep test. We offer a home sleep test, which most people can use. You cannot have a home sleep test if you’ve been diagnosed with another sleep disorder or if you’ve previously had a home sleep test turn up inconclusive results. Otherwise, a sleep test is a reliable, convenient way to find out if you have sleep apnea.
The device will track your breathing, oxygen levels, and movement during the night to determine whether you have sit, and how severe your it is. Sleep apnea is rated according to the number of times your breathing stops at night, called the apnea/hypopnea index (AHI):
- 0-5 per hour: no sleep apnea
- 6-15 per hour: mild
- 16-30 per hour: moderate
- 31+ per hour: severe
Once we know the level of your sleep apnea, we can recommend treatment.
Treating Sleep Apnea
The most recommended sleep apnea treatment is CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), a pump and mask arrangement that forces air into your throat to hold it open. Although this can be a very effective sleep apnea treatment, for many people it’s just uncomfortable and inconvenient, so they don’t use it.
We recommend an alternative: oral appliance therapy with the EMA (elastic mandibular advancement). With oral appliance therapy, we reposition your jaw to hold your airway open. It’s a simple mouthguard you put in before going to sleep. It’s comfortable and convenient, low maintenance, and easily transportable. And it’s been proven to be just as effective as CPAP.
If you would like to learn more about your sleep apnea treatment options in Anchorage, please call today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at Denali Dental Care.