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Sleep Apnoea and Snoring

 

Millions of Australians suffer from snoring activity during sleep. While some of these are "simple snorers", many have a serious sleep disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). It is reported that in the USA alone, up to 1 in 4 males and 1 in 10 females suffer from OSA.

If you or someone you know is getting nudged or elbowed throughout the night from frustrated bed partners, it's important to know the difference between sleep apnoea and primary snoring and how they can silence it. Understanding the etiology and differences between them is the first step to effective treatment for both conditions.

 

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and Snoring?

Snoring is the result of tissues in the throat relaxing enough that they partially block the airway and vibrate, producing a sound. Depending on the individuals's anatomy and other lifestyle factors (alcohol consumption, body weight etc), the sound of the vibration can be louder or softer.

Loud frequent snoring is a symptom of sleep apnoea, which is a chronic condition presenting it self by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. This can occur from several times to more than 30X in an hour in more severe cases. When people with sleep apnoea fall asleep, they can stop breathing for a few seconds to more than a minute. Both conditions are made worse with other pre-existing conditions in the mouth, obesity, aging, lifestyle factors and physical attributes. 

 

Should I Be Worried?

Depending on the severity and how much it impacts on your quality of life and affects your day to day activities, nobody should underestimate the health risks. 

Not just a noisy nuisance, snoring and sleep apnoea can have serious helth ramifications such as:

  • Affects sleep quality
  • Decrease in Quality of LIfe and of the bed partners too
  • OSA triggers release of stress hormones, change how body uses energy and makes you feel tired and sleep throughout the day
  • Decrease in vigilance, cognitive abilities
  • Affects mental Health
  • Increased risk of car accidents
  • With reduced sleep, other undesirable side effects are weight gain, memory loss, skin aging and more
  • There is also evidence that OSA leads to greater risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart disease, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, cancers and even sudden death
  • Increased risk of neurological complications like dementia, seizures and epilepsy
  • Increased complications to anesthesia (leading to more post op respiratory depression)

As you can see, snoring or OSA is of no laughing matter and can have serious consequences.

Do I have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and Snoring?

Not everyone will have all the symptoms listed below as everyone is different, hence symptoms may vary:

  • Snoring 
  • Choking and Gasping for air while sleeping
  • Waking up with tense headaches on both sides
  • Sore back and mouth muscles upon waking
  • Grinding or Bruxism
  • Overweight
  • Smoking
  • Bed time alcohol habits
  • Increased bed time toilet visits

 

How can this be treated?

While both snoring and Sleep Apnoea are different, general treatments may cross-over between the two. However, with more severe sleep apnoea sufferers, special treatments may be necessary to address this.

Some general recommendations are:

  • Weight loss
  • Cessation of Smoking
  • Decrease in alcohol consumption
  • Changing sleep positions
  • Oral Devices
  • Some nasal strips

In some cases of severe sleep apnoea the following may be recommended:

  • Surgery
  • CPAP (read below to find out more)
  • Mandibular Advancements Splints (MAS) (read below to find out more)

A sleep study would usually be recommended beforehand to determine the effectiveness, suitability and appropriate treatments. 

Ask the Tooth Heaven Dentists to point you in the right direction!

At Tooth Heaven, our recommendations are based on Evidence Based treatments and not based on some "idea" or "sleek marketing"

CPAP - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

Is essentially a blower connected to a tube that feeds a mask that goes over the mouth and the nose, blowing air at a certain pressure consistently to maintain an open airway. The constant pressure keeps the airway from collapsing alowing normal breathing. 

Although CPAP has proven to be really effective, most people experience some difficulty using a CPAP machine. There are however other options for those that find it difficult to adjust to wearing and using CPAP, like the mandibular advancement splint (MAS)

Ask the Tooth Heaven Dentists to point you in the right direction!

Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS)

These are devices that fit over the teeth on both arches and help position the lower jaw more forward to open up the airway. 

In a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the researchers summarized that "MAS was overall equivalent to CPAP. However the MAS was superior to CPAP in 4 of 8 Quality of Life measurements"

This is obvious because there is no loud machine to carry around, no mask to put on to sleep at night and actually works! *

Ask the Tooth Heaven Dentists to point you in the right direction!

 

 

*all patients are different, hence produce different results. In Severe cases of Sleep Apnoea, a combination of CPAP and MAS may be suggested by the Sleep Physician and/or Dentist*

Don’t forget that while you’re sleeping, others are not.

 

While the snorer may not feel that their sleep is disrupted, the partner being kept up all night by the noise may feel differently. Relationships can take a big hit and suffer if partners are irritated about being kept awake or having to sleep in separate rooms. The lack of sleep or need for nighttime separation can foster resentment and decrease intimacy in relationships.

There are also additional health risks from lack of consistent high-quality sleep, including being more prone to accidents, difficulty focusing, impaired attention and alertness, as well as other serious risks such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes as mentioned before. This lack of sleep can promote weight gain while also accelerating the aging of the skin and brain.

Your health depends on getting enough sleep. There are treatments to help, and you can get your restful nights back.