Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea is as common as adult diabetes affecting more than 12-million Americans. Anyone can suffer from this dysfunction but typical sleep apnea patients are overweight men who are over 40 years old. Sleep apnea occurs when the airway is blocked during sleep causing the patient to stop breathing. Some episodes can number in the hundreds and last for over a minute long each.

If sleep apnea is left untreated, patients can suffer from cardiovascular disease, chronic headaches, memory problems and impotency. This disease can affect job performance and a person’s quality of life. There are three major types of sleep apnea:

• Obstructive – the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses blocking the airway

• Central – there is no airway blockage but the brain fails to signal muscles when to breathe

• Mixed – is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea. With each blockage, the patient’s sleep is interrupted resulting in very little rest


Symptoms for central and obstructive sleep apnea are quite similar and difficult to differentiate. The patient needs to see a specialist for a clear diagnosis. A patient’s partner can aid in determining the type of sleep apnea their loved one is suffering from by being aware of the following common symptoms:

• Loud snoring that disturbs other people

• Breathing stops intermittently

• Shortness of breath that interrupts the patient’s sleep

• Excessive sleepiness during the day

• Dry mouth or sore throat when awakened

• Extreme irritability

• Morning headache


There are several treatment options for sleep apnea sufferers. A medical specialist can determine the right therapy for you. The most common treatments include the following:

• Position therapy – the tongue and other airway muscles block the airways when the patient sleeps on their back. Home made remedies and other unique techniques can dissuade patients from the “supine position”:

• Tennis balls stuffed in a long sock then pinned to the back of the nightshirt

• Special cushions designed to encourage sleeping on the side or stomach

• Positional alarms that go off when the patient rolls to his/her back

• Weight loss – for mild cases. Additional fat around the neck can narrow the airway

• Avoid alcohol, painkillers, muscle relaxants or sedatives

• Try an oral appliance designed to push the lower jaw forward and keep the tongue from blocking the airway

• CPAP – continuous positive airway pressure blows air gently down the patient’s throat to keep it open

• Surgery removes excess tissue from the throat and nose to keep the airways clear from obstruction. There are a variety of surgical options from laser-assisted treatments to radio-frequency ablation. Other choices include: polyp removal from the nose, correcting a deviated septum and removing tonsils and adenoids.

In San Diego, California, please visit the website of the sleep apnea specialists at Carmel Creek Dental. We offer the best treatment options available using on the latest state-of-the-art technology and techniques. Your comfort and healthy smile is our priority.



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