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Common Causes of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a very common problem, but it’s a condition that many people may not recognize. There are numerous causes for sleep apnea, and there are certain factors that can definitely make it worse or more likely to occur.

Sleep apnea is all about breathing: when your breathing is shallow or obstructed while you sleep, it causes pauses in your breathing and sleep that isn’t restful. Understanding what can contribute to this problem can help you avoid it. Here are some of the major causes and risk factors for sleep apnea:

  1. You’re getting older

Although people of any age can suffer from sleep apnea, the numbers suggest that those between the ages of 40-60 are affected the most. One in 25 middle-aged men and one in 50 middle-aged women have sleep apnea, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

  1. You’re a man

Statistically, men are far more likely to suffer from sleep apnea; Men are diagnosed with sleep apnea 2-3 times more often than women.

  1. You have a narrow airway

Sometimes you just lose the genetic lottery – it’s possible to be born with an airway or throat that is just naturally narrow. Sometimes, the problem is so serious it can require surgery to correct. But in most cases, it just means you have to be hyper aware of the risk of sleep apnea.

  1. You drink alcohol at night

Alcohol relaxes the muscles. Have you ever had a few drinks before bed, and then had someone tell you the next morning that you were snoring? The alcohol has caused your throat muscles to relax, which makes your airway more collapsible, leading to breathing problems. Those breathing problems can cause or worsen snoring and sleep apnea.

  1. You’re overweight

Being overweight or obese can lead to a lot of health problems, but did you know sleep apnea is one of them? Extra soft fat tissue can cause the windpipe to narrow, which prevents optimal airflow. Being overweight is one of the biggest factors when it comes to sleep apnea: more than half of those with the disorder are overweight.

  1. You smoke

Just like being overweight, smoking already has a host of other health consequences associated with it, including sleep apnea. According to one study, smokers are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than non-smokers. Smoking causes swelling in the airway, which can lead to obstructed breathing.

  1. You have allergies or other nasal congestion

Since sleep apnea is all about breathing, and being able to breathe while you sleep, it’s only natural that nasal problems can make sleep apnea worse. If your nasal passages are obstructed, your airway isn’t getting sufficient air pushed through it. Studies have shown that nasal obstruction can be a direct cause of sleep apnea. 

  1. You have large tonsils and adenoids (children)

Children can suffer from sleep apnea, and it is often caused by enlarged tonsils. A 2013 study found that removing swollen tonsils and adenoids (lymphatic tissue located near the nasal cavity) from children helped treat sleep apnea and snoring. Additionally, the children experienced improvement in quality of sleep and behavior.

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Sleep Apnea Treatment in Woodland Hills, CA

Woodland Hills Dental Center provides treatment for excessive snoring and sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy – a non-invasive and comfortable treatment option. Excessive snoring can affect the quality of one’s rest and those around them while sleep apnea is a condition that literally robs a patient of achieving deep, rejuvenating sleep. Since we sleep for about one-third of our lives, it is important to strive for quality rest that revives our bodies and minds.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea and Excessive Snoring

Since snoring and sleep apnea occur when we are at rest, they often go unnoticed until someone else points out the symptoms. Common symptoms one can detect, however, including waking with dry mouth and headaches as well as feeling tired even after a full night of sleep. Causing sleep deprivation, episodes of apnea will affect one’s ability to think clearly and may even cause mood disturbances such as depression and temperamental behavior.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

Certain factors can put a person at increased risk for sleep apnea. Those who are overweight are likely to develop bulky throat tissue that can block the airway when one lies down to sleep. Patients who drink alcoholic beverages before bed or take medications that cause sedating or drowsy effects can also cause soft oral tissue to relax into the throat and block airways. Other contributors to sleep apnea can include developmental abnormalities at the back of the mouth, smoking, and a family history of sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea and Health

Research shows strong correlations between sleep apnea and other health issues – especially issues related to sleep deprivation. Long-term sleep deprivation can cause chronic fatigue, memory loss, impaired motor function, depression, and irritability. Studies have also shown that erratic breathing patterns caused by sleep apnea can weaken the heart and negatively affect the pulmonary system.

Sleep Apnea Treatment in Woodland Hills, CA

There are a few treatment options available for sleep apnea. After a sleep study has confirmed that apnea is present, patients can consult with a professional for treatment. Our practice provides take home sleep tests that allows for sleep studies to be conducted conveniently at home. If sleep apnea is detected, we will recommend the use of a custom oral appliance, which is the most comfortable and conservative treatment option. If this treatment is ineffective, we can refer patients to specialists for further evaluation.

Common Questions

If I snore, do I have sleep apnea?

Snoring frequently accompanies sleep apnea but it is not always an indicator of whether this sleep condition is present. However, snoring can indicate that bulky throat tissue could potentially obstruct airways – especially if patients have certain lifestyle factors that contribute to sleep apnea. Fortunately, the treatment we offer for sleep apnea and snoring is the same. By prescribing a custom oral appliance, the diameter of the airway can be widened to prevent the sounds of snoring as well as episodes of apnea. These oral appliances are soft and comfortable to wear. They work by positioning the lower jaw slightly forward so that the airway is no longer obstructed.

Is it possible that I have sleep apnea even if I don’t snore?

Anyone of any age can have sleep apnea. Even though snoring can accompany sleep apnea, it is not always a symptom of this sleep disorder. For this reason, it is important to have a sleep study conducted to determine if apnea is occurring. Our practice provides take-home sleep study machinery to detect episodes of apnea during sleep. After usage, the device will be returned to our practice and we will analyze the data collected. If we find that sleep apnea is present or determine if snoring is obstructing one’s quality of life, we will provide treatment recommendations.

Are there health risks associated with sleep apnea?

There have been numerous studies conducted to determine what health risks are associated with sleep apnea. Research has shown correlations between a variety of health conditions and sleep apnea – including cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. In addition to these risks, sleep apnea itself results in sleep deprivation, which presents a number of health and quality of life problems. Sleep deprivation affects the organs’ abilities to rejuvenate during rest and with time, a lack of sleep will affect cognitive and motor function. Moreover, sleep deprivation disturbs one’s mood, causing irritability and depression.

Will sleep apnea go away with time?

Sleep apnea can go away on its own if certain lifestyle conditions like drinking alcohol before bed or using sedatives cease. Sometimes, patients can have apnea induced by weight gain, so if one was to lose weight, they may no longer have issues with breathing during rest. For the most part, however, prolonged sleep apnea does not go away on its own. This is why receiving treatment is beneficial -especially since this sleep disorder literally robs a person from receiving proper rest.

What is oral appliance therapy?

Oral appliance therapy is a treatment protocol for sleep apnea and excessive snoring. Instead of using bulky respiratory machinery or surgical alterations to oral tissue, custom appliances are worn inside the mouth similar to a mouth guard. These appliances are designed to hold the lower mandible (jaw) slightly forward to increase the size of the airway during sleep, thus preventing blockage. An oral appliance is beneficial because it is easy to travel with and comfortable. Although oral appliance therapy is not right for every patient, it does offer relief for many.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Woodland Hills Sleep Apnea Therapy and Treatment

Do You Snore? Do You Have Chronic Fatigue?

We treat that, too! We specialize in the treatment of patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring with oral appliance therapy. With a customized oral appliance, mild sleep apnea can be minimized and even eliminated.

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What is Sleep Apnea?

What is Sleep Apnea? When you hear about sleeping issues, you may think of snoring or insomnia. Both are common and well publicized. But there is another very common problem that isn’t nearly as well known: sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea affects an estimated 22 million people, and 80 percent of those affected are undiagnosed. How can such a prevalent condition be so ignored?

A major problem with sleep apnea is the difficulty in diagnosing it. A sleep apnea sufferer will have trouble discovering the issue themselves, since it only happens when the person is asleep. Doctors can’t diagnose it during an office visit. Most often, a family member or partner will notice the abnormal breathing patterns that occur with sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea explained

Sleep apnea is a breathing condition that causes the person suffering from it to have shallow or infrequent breathing while sleeping, or even pauses in breathing. Each breathing disturbance (or apnea) can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, and apneas can occur 30 times an hour or more.

There are three different kinds of sleep apnea: Central Sleep Apnea (CSA), Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), and a combination of the two called complex or mixed sleep apnea.

CSA occurs when your muscles aren’t receiving proper signals from the brain to control breathing. OSA involves excessive relaxation of the throat muscles. Of the three forms, OSA is by far the most common, accounting for 84 percent of all reported sleep apnea cases.

Consequences of sleep apnea

Because breathing is obstructed, sleep becomes fragmented due to sleep apnea. The result is very poor sleep quality, and you may also find yourself excessively sleepy during the day, which can lead to poor job performance or automobile accidents.

Aside from drowsiness, sleep apnea can have many other long-term health consequences. If untreated, sleep apnea can lead to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, weight gain, impotence or depression.

Dr. Yousefi is trained to treat and manage sleep apnea in Woodland Hills,91364 area. She works closely with a team of sleep specialists to treat this potentially dangerous medical condition.

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, Dr. Yousefi encourages you to book an appointment with her to learn about your treatment options.

Treatment

There are several treatments for sleep apnea that can limit the impact of the condition. Sleep apnea tends to affect overweight people more often (70 percent of sleep apnea victims are overweight or obese), so doctors will recommend losing weight. If you suffer from mild sleep apnea, a decongestant may be enough to help improve symptoms. There are also many devices that can help, such as oral appliances, which are worn in the mouth and adjust jaw position, or positive airway pressure devices, which use a breathing mask to continuously push air through the throat. In some cases, surgery may be needed.

If you think you might be suffering from sleep apnea, you should discuss your concerns with a doctor. A medical professional can properly diagnose the condition and recommend a treatment suitable for you. To read more, download our free eBook “Prevent the Toothache Before the Money Ache.”

What is the Best Treatment for Sleep Apnea?

Many people struggle with sleep apnea – in fact, according to some estimates, up to 22 million Americans are dealing with the issues surrounding this struggle. But there are many treatments available that can help ease the symptoms of sleep apnea, and help you to get back to a good night’s rest. Then your dentist can make sure to determine one or more of the casuses of sleep apnea in your case.

Medication

Sometimes, something as simple as a good decongestant is all that is needed to treat sleep apnea. Since sleep apnea is a breathing disorder, clearing your nasal passages and sinuses can provide the relief you are seeking. However, decongestants are only advised for mild cases of sleep apnea. They are very unlikely to be effective for serious cases.

Surgery

For cases of severe sleep apnea, surgery may be both prudent and the most appropriate course of treatment. Surgery is more of a “last resort” treatment option, and doctors likely won’t recommend it unless other treatment options have failed. Surgery options include: Tissue removal, where excess tissue is removed from the throat or rear of the mouth, to allow more air to pass through; Also – jaw repositioning, which moves your jaw forward slightly, decreasing the likelihood of your airway becoming obstructed. However, even surgery is not foolproof: The tissue removal procedure (also known as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP), only has a success rate of about 50 percent.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine

A CPAP machine connects to a mask that is worn while asleep, allowing the machine to consistently blow air into the throat. This ensures the airway remains open and air flows freely through it. There are numerous different types of CPAP masks and machines, with various features and costs.

Although CPAP machines can be effective, they are not without side effects. Patients can experience runny noses or congestion, and the mask may be difficult to wear for patients with claustrophobia and/or other obstacles.

Oral Appliance Therapy

A very simple, yet also effective solution, is oral appliance therapy. Although it has a fancy name, an oral appliance is essentially just a mouth guard worn during sleep. There are two types of oral appliances – the Mandibular Repositioning Device, which causes the jaw to jut forward slightly, further opening up the airway; and the Tongue Retaining Device, which pulls the tongue forward and holds it in place, preventing any obstruction of the throat.

Your dentist can help you get set up with an oral appliance, fitting you for the mouth guard and making adjustments to it when necessary. There are multiple benefits to oral appliance therapy over the other treatment options listed above: It is much simpler and safer than surgery and it is cheaper and less intrusive than a CPAP machine. Best of all, you can start oral appliance therapy with just a simple visit to the dentist.

Regardless of what type of treatment you choose, it is important to deal with your sleep apnea right away. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to many health problems down the road. To read more, download our free eBook “Prevent the Toothache Before the Money Ache.”

8 Common Causes of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a very common problem, but it’s a condition that many people may not understand. There are multiple causes for sleep apnea, and there are certain factors that can definitely make it worse or more likely to occur.

Sleep apnea is all about breathing: when your breathing is shallow or obstructed while you sleep, it causes pauses in your breathing and sleep that isn’t restful. Understanding what can contribute to this problem can help you avoid it. Here are some of the major causes and risk factors for sleep apnea:

You’re getting older

Although people of any age can suffer from sleep apnea, the numbers suggest that those between the ages of 40-60 are affected the most. One in 25 middle-aged men and one in 50 middle-aged women have sleep apnea, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

You’re a man

Statistically, men are far more likely to suffer from sleep apnea; Men are diagnosed with sleep apnea 2-3 times more often than women.

You have a narrow airway

Sometimes you just lose the genetic lottery – it’s possible to be born with an airway or throat that is just naturally narrow. Sometimes, the problem is so serious it can require surgery to correct. But in most cases, it just means you have to be hyper aware of the risk of sleep apnea.

You drink alcohol at night

Alcohol relaxes the muscles. Have you ever had a few drinks before bed, and then had someone tell you the next morning that you were snoring? The alcohol has caused your throat muscles to relax, which makes your airway more collapsible, leading to breathing problems. Those breathing problems can cause or worsen snoring and sleep apnea.

You’re overweight

Being overweight or obese can lead to a lot of health problems, but did you know sleep apnea is one of them? Extra soft fat tissue can cause the windpipe to narrow, which prevents optimal airflow. Being overweight is one of the biggest factors when it comes to sleep apnea: more than half of those with the disorder are overweight.

You smoke

Just like being overweight, smoking already has a host of other health consequences associated with it, including sleep apnea. According to one study, smokers are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than non-smokers. Smoking causes swelling in the airway, which can lead to obstructed breathing.

You have allergies or other nasal congestion

Since sleep apnea is all about breathing, and being able to breathe while you sleep, it’s only natural that nasal problems can make sleep apnea worse. If your nasal passages are obstructed, your airway isn’t getting sufficient air pushed through it. Studies have shown that nasal obstruction can be a direct cause of sleep apnea.

You have large tonsils and adenoids (children)

Children can suffer from sleep apnea, and it is often caused by enlarged tonsils. A 2013 study found that removing swollen tonsils and adenoids (lymphatic tissue located near the nasal cavity) from children helped treat sleep apnea and snoring. Additionally, the children experienced improvement in quality of sleep and behavior.

Sleep Apnea Solutions: How to Determine What is Best for You

Snoring keeping you or your partner up at night? Sleep apnea might be the culprit. Sleep apnea is when your body stops breathing at various times throughout the night while you sleep. This stoppage in action means that your brain may not be getting the oxygen it needs. Sleep apnea is different for different people, so knowing what’s best for you personally is important when deciding how to go about treating it.

First of all, you should figure out which type you have. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common form of the two. This is when your throat muscles become more relaxed when you sleep, which blocks the airway and harms breathing. The other kind of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea. This is when the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the muscles that control breathing, which causes stoppages in breathing throughout the night.

No matter which type of sleep apnea you’re suffering from, the side effects could end up being devastating. Sleep apnea is linked to several health problems including high blood pressure, heart attacks and diabetes. It can also lead to depression and headaches.

There are a few different ways that you can treat sleep apnea from the comfort of your own home. One treatment is to change sleeping positions. This remedy is particularly helpful for obstructive sleep apnea. For some people, sleeping on their back makes their throat muscles rest backward, causing difficulty breathing and snoring. Turning on your side or elevating your head can fix this problem by keeping the throat muscles in place. A common trick to stop you from sleeping on your back is taping a tennis ball to your back. That way when you inevitably go on your back in your sleep, your body will become discomforted and turn over.

Losing weight and avoiding alcohol could also cure your sleep apnea. Alcohol disrupts the sleep cycle by lowering the melatonin levels in your body. Staying in shape and keeping extra weight off your body also helps it to sleep better.

Depending how severe your sleep apnea is, it may take more to cure it. The first step to curing is understanding what it is and what might be causing it. If none of these remedies work, call your doctor to see what measures you should take.

How to Determine if Oral Appliance Therapy is Right for You

If you have problems with restful sleep through the night, or deal with consistent snoring, your problems may run deeper than you imagine. These are some of the common warning signs for sleep apnea, a condition which afflicts nearly 20 million Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Sleep apnea is very difficult to diagnose, since it only afflicts the patient while they sleep. Often, it’s a family member or roommate who will notice the problematic snoring or the occurrence of “apneas” during the night. The term apnea refers to the condition’s primary symptom, which is a pause during sleep that can occur up to 30 times in an hour. Additionally, each apnea can last from a few seconds to a few minutes.

If you think that may be suffering from sleep apnea, there are multiple treatment options available that can keep the condition under control. The primary cause of sleep apnea is an airway that becomes obstructed during the night, which can happen for such reasons as an overweight patient (which results in a more constricted airway), or simple genetic predisposition to a blocked airway.

Treatment options include:

CPAP Machine: This device consistently blows air through the airway, keeping it unobstructed. Although it is effective, it can be expensive and requires the use of an air mask during sleep.

Losing weight: Most sleep apnea patients are overweight. Although it may sounds like an overly-simplistic answer, losing weight can provide much needed relief to sleep apnea sufferers.

Oral Appliance Therapy: Perhaps the least intrusive and most affordable option, oral appliance therapy is basically a fancy name for the use of a mouth guard during sleep. There are two types of oral appliance therapy available:

–       Mandibular Repositioning Device: Just as the name implies, this device causes the jaw to jut forward slightly during sleep, keeping the airway open and unobstructed.

–       Tongue Retaining Device: Instead of moving the jaw, this device holds the tongue in place with a suction bulb. Airway blockages can occur when the tongue collapses backwards during sleep – this device prohibits that.

If you think you’re suffering from sleep apnea, your first visit should actually be with your dentist. Dentists have been trained to recognize the signs of sleep apnea and can go over treatment options with you. Treatment usually begins with the simplest and most cost-effective option; in this case, oral appliance therapy. A dentist can mold an oral appliance specifically for your mouth, and adjust it accordingly during the course of treatment. To read more information about dental problem prevention techniques, please download our free eBook “Prevent the Toothache Before the Money Ache.”

Sleep Apnea: The Cause and the Solution (Simply Put)

You have likely heard of sleep apnea at some point in your life. It has occasionally been in the news, such as in 2004, when Hall of Fame football legend Reggie White died of a cardiac arrhythmia, which was made worse by his chronic sleep apnea. But even if you know the name of the disorder, you may not understand it.

Simply put, sleep apnea means “pauses in breathing.” Its name comes from the Greek word apnea, which translates to “without breath.”

With sleep apnea, your breathing becomes obstructed due to your airway being blocked; which results in pauses in breath or excessively shallow breathing.

The most common form of sleep apnea is referred to as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which accounts for 84 percent of all sleep apnea cases. OSA occurs when the muscles of the throat become too relaxed, which leads to airway blockage.

So what causes a person to develop OSA? More often than not, it is the result of being overweight. The walls of the windpipe become thicker in heavier individuals, due to the presence of more soft fat tissue. This, in turn, narrows the airway. In other cases, genetics are to blame for the onset of OSA: some people are born with larger tongues or tonsils, which can block the airway, or your bone structure may cause you to have a naturally small airway.

So what do you do if you suffer from sleep apnea? There are a few treatments readily available:

Lose weight

If you’re overweight, this is the simplest solution available; of course, losing weight is a problem millions of Americans struggle with on a daily basis. Although it may be easier said than done, shedding a few pounds really can make a huge difference to sleep apnea sufferers.

CPAP Machine

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are devices that continuously shoot air into a patient’s airway, via a hose that is connected to a face mask worn by the patient. CPAP machines are effective but do require the patient to stay connected to the apparatus, which some patients find uncomfortable or restricting.

Oral appliances

Despite the fancy name, an oral appliance is really just a mouthguard you wear during sleep – it is similar in appearance to a mouthguard you might see a football player wear. There are two different kinds of oral appliances: tongue retaining devices, which hold the tongue in place during sleep, preventing it from collapsing and blocking your airway; and mandibular repositioning devices, which cause the jaw to protrude slightly, ensuring your airway stays open.

Surgery

In severe cases of sleep apnea, surgery may be required. However, surgery is usually seen as a last resort option – only used once simpler, less invasive options have been explored (such as the aforementioned CPAP machines and oral appliances). There are a variety of different surgical options to treat sleep apnea, which can involve modifying the nose, jaw or throat. The most common surgery is the uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP, which removes excess tissue from the throat or soft palate. Any possible sleep apnea surgery should be discussed fully with a healthcare professional, who can recommend the right kind of surgical procedure for you. You can also download for free our eBook below titled “Prevent the Toothache Before the Money Ache” to read about more about preventing these dental issues.