I Have Sleep Apnea. What Now?

Updated: Sep 21, 2018

If you’ve been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, you are not alone. An estimated 100 million people across the globe have Sleep Apnea as per data from the World Health Organisation. The good news is that we can help you!

A normal night’s sleep is like a beautiful slow swell on the ocean, a series of waves where you go into deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement), three or four times per night. In deep sleep your body and brain recuperates from the day’s activities and after a great night’s sleep you will awake feeling refreshed and recharged.

Apnea means “cessation of breath”. With Sleep Apnea, the normal slow sleep wave is interrupted when the patient stops breathing during the night.

In deep sleep the muscles completely relax and the tongue can drop back to close off the airway. This occurs particularly when the susceptible patient sleeps on their back in what is called the supine position.

Apneas can last for seconds and in the severe cases over a minute in duration (try holding your breath for a minute when you are awake). The brain registers that there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood and releases adrenalin to wake the body up and start breathing.

This can happen many times during the night and instead of a beautiful slow restful swell your ocean swell becomes a chop with many moments of wakefulness. Patients with sleep apnea will often complain of waking up tired and are often generally sleepy during the day, due to their interrupted sleep.

So, why should I seek treatment?

We all know how it feels when we have one bad night’s sleep

• Tired during the day

• Grumpy

• Short tempered

• Can’t think straight

What are the treatment options?

Once diagnosed your physician will discuss treatment options with you. Besides surgery and weight loss, your main options are CPAP, a machine which delivers pressurised air through a mask to open your airway, or COAT, an oral appliance that your Metro Dental dentist can custom fit to your mouth.

The COAT (Continuous Open Airway Therapy) or Oral Appliance Therapy is recommended for use in patients with mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea or in severe cases where you are not able to manage CPAP therapy. The custom fitted dental device worn while you sleep fits over your upper and lower teeth and is designed to keep you airway open by holding your lower jaw forward. It is comfortable, discreet and easy to use. Thus most patients have no problem wearing COAT all night every night. These devices are fitted by your dentist over a number of visits and may need to be adjusted to ensure the device is working well.

Sleep Apnea device custom fitted by your dentist

Before choosing a sleep apnea treatment option, talk with your doctor. The severity of your sleep apnea and your current physical and medical condition will determine the best treatment option for you.

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