Why is Treatment Necessary?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, can be a serious, debilitating, and sometimes life threatening condition. It is often characterized by heavy snoring, and sometimes the bed partner will observe the patient as they stop breathing. OSA occurs when the muscles of the neck relax during sleep, and the weight of the tissues collapse into the airway. When a patient has an apnea event, the brain senses the buildup of CO2 in the bloodstream. Needing oxygen, the brain will bring the person out of deep restorative sleep and into Stage I sleep, so that muscle tonality increases and the patient “gasps” for breath. This can occur over and over, many times an hour throughout the night. The immediate result is that the patient feels tired during the daytime, as they haven’t spent enough time in deep restorative sleep during the night.
Treating sleep apnea effectively will restore the patient to a normal “sleep architecture”, often leaving him or her with much more energy during the day.
Untreated OSA can lead to many health problems that are avoidable.
These patients have a much higher incidence of:
- Cardiovascular disease, Heart Attack, and Stroke
- High Blood Pressure
- Acid Reflux, or GERD
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Morning Headaches
If you have two or more of these condition, or if you have been told that you stop breathing at night, you should be evaluated for sleep apnea by a doctor trained in sleep medicine. Dr. Erickson can consult with you and if need be, offer a referral to a sleep medicine specialist so that you can be properly diagnosed.
Once a diagnosis is made, your treatment choices will be offered to you. Many times, that treatment choice is, Oral Appliance Therapy.