What Is Sleep Apnea?
You May Need Sleep Apnea Treatment in Longview, TX
Sleep apnea is actually the second most common sleep disorder in the entire country behind insomnia, but it is becoming more and more common each year. “Apnea” actually comes from the Greek word for “breathless,” and this refers to the breathing cessations that are associated with the disorder.
When a person has sleep apnea, they will stop breathing for short periods of time during the night. When this occurs, the body goes into panic mode and partially wakes up in order to restore breathing. This can happen up to 100 times each hour, and it prevents a person from getting the deep, restful sleep their body needs. These apnea events often don’t even wake a person up, leading them to wonder why they feel so exhausted despite “sleeping” the entire night.
There are three kinds of sleep apnea, with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) being the most common. With this, the halt in breathing is caused by the soft tissues in the mouth and throat relaxing during sleep and collapsing into the airway. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is much less common, and it stems from a neurological problem where the brain stops sending the signal to the body to breathe during sleep. There is also complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of the two.
At SLEEPwell Longview, we primarily treat patients with OSA.
Some of the most common symptoms of OSA are:
- Chronic, loud snoring
- Gasping for air, wheezing, or waking up feeling breathless
- Frequent morning headaches
- Sore throat and/or dry mouth upon waking
- Severe daytime exhaustion regardless of hours slept
- Difficulty concentrating, memory loss, mood swings, and other noticeable changes in behavior
- Sexual dysfunction
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
There are three main types of sleep apnea with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) being the most common. More than 80 percent of sleep apnea patients have OSA. Snoring, which is the most common sign of sleep apnea, occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat falls down into the airway. When air tries to pass that tissue, you get a fluttering noise, and this is what creates the iconic snoring sound. Not only is it wreaking havoc on the person that snores, but it also affects their bed partner as well.
Eventually, your brain senses that you’ve stopped breathing and causes you to wake up just enough to gasp and start breathing again. Then, you fall back to sleep and the cycle begins again. This can happen more than 120 times every hour, even though you may not ever remember waking up.
Sleep apnea has been linked to:
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Severe anxiety
- An inefficient metabolism
- Weight gain
- Mood Swings
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Loss of short-term memory
- Muscle pain
- Gastric reflux
- Intellectual deterioration
- Memory loss and concentration impairment
To have a better understanding of sleep apnea, take a coffee stir straw and try to breath out of it while plugging your nose. The straw represents how much air passes through the airway while sleeping. When your body doesn’t receive enough air, you will awaken just enough to breathe.
Sleep apnea causes a person to miss out on essential, deep REM sleep, and this causes stress to the body and organs, as well as daytime drowsiness. This consistent exhaustion is why people with sleep apnea are also more likely to be involved in serious car accidents.
How to Get Sleep Apnea Treatment in Longview
If you believe that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, the first step to getting the treatment you need is to get a proper diagnosis. To do this, you can either schedule an appointment with your family doctor and inform them of your sleep problems, or you can take our quick STOP-BANG assessment. It is only eight “yes or no” questions that will help us determine your risk of having sleep apnea. It only takes about 30 seconds to complete, and when you are done, our team at SLEEPwell Longview will evaluate it and contact you within 24 hours with advice on what to do next.
If we believe that you do indeed have sleep apnea based on your assessment, we will schedule a consultation appointment to discuss your situation, and we will likely recommend that you undergo a sleep screening, which can be performed either in a sleep lab or at home. This will enable us to get a definitive diagnosis, and, working with your sleep doctor, we can determine what the best course of treatment would be for you.
At-Home Sleep Screening with WatchPat
As part of the process, we can have you wear a small finger and wrist device known as a WatchPat for one night at home. It will give us a lot of data (including your sleep position, pulse, blood pressure, and more) to reveal what is going on in your body while you sleep. With this info, we’ll be able to determine if you have sleep apnea and what treatment may be best for you. Thanks to the WatchPat, we’ll be able to gain an even better understanding of your situation so we can provide more personalized care.
12 Interesting Facts about Sleep & Sleep Disorders
- A healthy adult should feel adequately rested after getting seven to nine hours of sleep and not experience daytime drowsiness.
- Sleep apnea sufferers often have problems with their weight due to chronic exhaustion and the hormonal effects of sleep deprivation.
- Chronic sleep deprivation can damage the brain and memory in ways similar to alcoholism, drug addiction, and Alzheimer’s.
- Sleep apnea is often misdiagnosed or misinterpreted as insomnia. With sleep apnea, a patient is never able to sleep that deeply, making it much easier for them to wake up multiple times during the night.
- People who snore are more likely to develop a sleep disorder in the future. Fortunately, we can provide treatments to stop snoring and prevent this from happening.
- Driving while sleep deprived has been scientifically proven to be more dangerous than driving while inebriated. People who drive while exhausted are 15X more likely to be in a motor vehicle accident than the average population.
- Most people with sleep apnea (80 percent) are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Also, most people with sleep apnea, whether they know it or not, do not seek out treatment.
- Sleep apnea is very detrimental to overall health, and the average lifespan of a person with completely untreated sleep apnea is only 55.
- Sleep apnea is one of the most common and under-recognized causes of sexual and erectile dysfunction.
- People who wake frequently during the night to urinate may actually be suffering from sleep apnea and misinterpreting their reason for waking.
- Many patients who suffer from bruxism (nighttime teeth grinding and jaw clenching) also have sleep apnea.
- Patients with a larger than average neck or tongue size have an increased risk of suffering from sleep apnea.
Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Snoring
If you or a bed partner snore every night, we can help stop it with the use of a custom-made oral appliance. When you consult us about snoring treatment, we may discover that you actually have sleep apnea, in which case we can help you get the treatment you need to safeguard your health. In short, snoring isn’t as harmless as you might think, so make sure you do something about it and contact SLEEPwell Longview!
How We Can Treat Sleep Apnea without a CPAP
CPAP therapy is the most commonly prescribed method used to treat sleep apnea, and for many, it’s all they need to overcome the disorder. For others, however, it brings on as many problems as it solves, as the machine is bulky, noisy, and can bring on feelings of claustrophobia due to the mask a patient has to wear.
If you already use a CPAP and would like a less cumbersome treatment for your sleep apnea, SLEEPwell Longview is happy to provide oral appliance therapy (OAT). With this approach, a small, custom-made mouthpiece is worn to bed each night, and it gently repositions the jaw in order to keep the airway unobstructed during the night. Every appliance we provide is made specifically for each patient so that it comfortably fits over the teeth, and we always use strong and flexible materials so it can be trusted to last.
In multiple studies, OAT has been shown to increase the sleep quality of 90 percent of the people who use it consistently. It provides a viable alternative to the CPAP, but it can also be used in tandem with the CPAP for effective combined therapy. Our dentists and your sleep doctor will help determine which treatment method is best for you.
Is Sleep Apnea Treatment Covered by Insurance?
The short answer is yes, insurance benefits can be used to partially pay for sleep apnea treatment here at SLEEPwell Longview!
In the past, people could only use their medical insurance when it came to sleep apnea treatment, but recently, more and more dental insurance plans are starting to provide coverage for OAT. At SLEEPwell Longview, we also accept Medicare to help you save on your care. Keeping track of all these benefits and knowing what is and isn’t covered can be somewhat confusing, but our team is more than happy to help you get your insurance sorted. Just let us know which plans you have, and we’ll quickly be able to determine the best ways for you to save. We’re always here to answer questions as well!
“I’m looking forward to receiving my sleep appliance and getting much needed beauty sleep! Lord knows it is needed!”- T.K.
“After 10 years sleeping in the spare bedroom, time to move back into the master bedroom. Yeah!”- Terry S.
“Made me feel extremely cared for and valued as a human life.”- Matthew M.