Snoring And Sleep Apnea: Why Treatment Is Important
It’s highly likely that you snore at least a little, especially considering about half the global population does. Maybe you’re a quiet snorer, or maybe your snoring shakes the house and disturbs your loved ones. Some snoring is normal, but did you know that disruptive snoring that happens almost every night may be a sign of a bigger problem?
Chronic heavy snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, a serious disorder that can affect your longevity and quality of life. Even if your snoring isn’t a sign of sleep apnea, it may be disturbing your bed partners and family to the point that it threatens your waking relationships. If this sounds like you, then you may want to visit Chapko & Shah Modern Dentistry for treatment for snoring and sleep apnea.
What Are Snoring and Sleep Apnea?
Snoring is a sound created when the tongue or other oral tissues near the back of the throat loosen, causing the airway to narrow and forcing air through the smaller opening. This causes the tissues to flutter, creating sound vibrations in the throat that result in snoring. When the snoring is so loud that it can be heard through walls, it’s referred to as heroic snoring.
Sleep apnea refers to sleep disorders that cause you to stop breathing during your sleep, repeatedly waking you up. The most common kind of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when the airways collapse, blocking airflow into the lungs. The harder the sleeper tries to breathe, the tighter the airway seals. This airway obstruction persists until the brain awakens the person.
Symptoms of Snoring And Sleep Apnea
Symptoms of loud snoring and sleep apnea are often very similar, so it can be difficult to distinguish one from the other. Common symptoms of snoring and sleep apnea may include:
- Gasping or choking at night
- Making quiet vibrations and whistles in your sleep
- Loud rumbling during sleep
- Sore throat in the morning
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Tossing and turning
- Problems concentrating
Causes of Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Snoring and sleep apnea may share causes as well, with some common causes including:
- Enlarged tonsils
- Sleeping on your back
- Excessive alcohol consumption
What Makes Snoring And Sleep Apnea So Troublesome?
Decreased Mental and Physical Health
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious health disorder, affecting an estimated 1 billion people worldwide. Sleep apnea doesn’t just negatively affect your sleep — the lack of quality rest can negatively affect your longevity and quality of life. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to:
- Heart disease
- Liver problems
- High blood pressure
- Oral cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Memory Loss
- Sexual dysfunction
Decreased Cognitive Function
Besides affecting your mental and physical health, decreased cognitive function caused by the lack of quality sleep can result in lower workplace performance and traffic accidents. It’s been proven that people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea inadvertently cause thousands of traffic fatalities every year.
Shared Sleep Deprivation and Damaged Relationships
Snoring, while usually not as severe, still shouldn’t be ignored. Sleep disturbances caused by snoring (whether or not it’s caused by sleep apnea) and the resulting strain on the relationship, are some of the leading causes of divorce and separation. Even if your bed partners aren’t complaining about your snoring, they’re likely losing sleep and dealing with all of the subsequent health issues that come with sleep deprivation.
To solve these issues, your partner may try sleeping with noise-canceling headphones, sleeping in a different room, or even in a different house. This can breed resentment and lack of intimacy, which can also hurt the relationship.
What’s more, if you’re dealing with heroic snoring, these disturbances can extend beyond your bed partners and may be affecting other household members. The problems and potential issues caused by snoring and sleep apnea are why effective treatment is so important. Fortunately, the Belvidere sleep dentists at Chapko & Shah Modern Dentistry can offer effective treatment to suit your unique case.
Possible Treatments For Snoring and Sleep Apnea
The tried and true method for treating snoring and sleep apnea, CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure machines, work by continuously delivering air pressure into your airways. The air pressure is delivered through a mask that you’ll wear while you sleep. The constant air pressure opens your airways and keeps them open, allowing you to breathe more easily.
However, some patients find CPAP to be too uncomfortable and noisy to continue treatment. They may find themselves removing the mask in their sleep or simply refusing to wear it because it makes sleeping uncomfortable or disturbs them and/or their bed partners. If you find CPAP to be too uncomfortable, then oral appliance therapy might be a good alternative treatment for you.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliances are custom-made mouthpieces, designed to be comfortably worn in your mouth while you sleep. They reposition your jaw and help to prevent your soft tissues from collapsing into the back of your throat. This helps your airways stay open, so you can breathe properly and get the quality sleep you deserve.
Patients tend to prefer oral appliance therapy because the devices are small, quiet, and comfortable. With oral appliance therapy, you can sleep in almost any position, there’s no masks or potentially noisy electronics involved, and you can easily carry your treatment wherever you go.
Diet and Exercise
Obesity or being overweight, is one of the leading causes of loud snoring and sleep apnea. Additionally, sleep apnea can worsen obesity and loud snoring, since quality sleep is vital to your metabolic functions and extra weight creates excess tissue and further narrows your airways. Sometimes, diet and exercise can help control if not eliminate symptoms of loud snoring and sleep apnea.
Our Belvidere sleep dentists may recommend you talk to your primary care provider and/or a nutritionist to see if diet and exercise would be viable options for you. Depending on your case, combining diet and exercise with other treatments might be necessary for effective treatment. Rest assured that our Belvidere dentists will never suggest you start a new diet and exercise regimen without consulting the proper medical professionals.
Throat exercises, also known as myofunctional therapy, specifically target the throat and mouth muscles, tightening them and preventing them from falling back into your airways while you sleep. In a clinical trial conducted for the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, patients who consistently performed oropharyngeal exercises 30 minutes a day for consecutive three months saw a significant reduction in the severity and symptoms of their OSA and loud snoring. Our Belvidere sleep dentists can give you instructions on how to perform these exercises and like conventional diet and exercise, may recommend them in combination with other treatments.
Usually, the last resort, Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty or UPPP is an oral surgery that involves removing excess tissue in your throat to make the airways wider.
Tissues that may be removed during this procedure include:
- The tonsils and adenoids if they’re still present
- Part of the uvula
- Soft palate (the roof of the mouth) tissues
- Tissues from the sides of the throat
Your Belvidere dentist is only likely to recommend oral surgery if all other treatments and lifestyle changes have failed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Chronic loud snoring and sleep apnea are conditions that are not likely to go away on their own. This is especially true for sleep apnea, because it causes a cycle of worsening symptoms like obesity, that worsen sleep apnea.
The best way to treat loud snoring and sleep apnea is to seek professional treatment, like the kind you can find at Chapko & Shah Modern Dentistry. We encourage you to contact our Belvidere office by dialing (815) 544-5144 if you’re experiencing chronic snoring or possible sleep apnea symptoms.
Sleep apnea on its own isn’t usually life-threatening. However, untreated sleep apnea can often lead to serious health issues, which can lower your quality of life and your life expectancy. That’s why it’s important to seek effective treatment for sleep apnea as soon as possible.
To determine if you have sleep apnea, your Belvidere sleep dentist will order a sleep study. A sleep study is a test that can be conducted at your own home or at a specially designed medical office. Electrodes will be attached to your head and record vital information while you sleep such as breathing patterns, eye movement, and neurological signals. This information will be reviewed by a sleep professional who will analyze it to determine if you have sleep apnea or not.
The best way to treat snoring and sleep apnea is to seek professional treatment from your sleep dentist. However, there are certain behavioral changes you can try at home that may help control your symptoms until you can visit Chapko & Shah Modern Dentistry and see one of our Belvidere sleep dentists for professional help. Methods for controlling snoring and sleep apnea symptoms at home include:
- Sleeping on your side
- Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco, especially before bed
- Replacing your mattress if it’s old or uncomfortable
- Avoiding napping during the day
- Throat exercises
- Diet and exercise
- Nasal strips
- Allergy medication