Discover the causes of snoring and treatment options for snoring and sleep apnea in Annandale
Snoring can keep an individual and his or her partner from sleeping restfully and peacefully. It leaves the person feeling tired from not getting a full night of sleep. Snoring can be an occasional problem, or for some patients, it may signify a medical issue such as sleep apnea. Treatments are available which are non-surgical and drug-free to help patients have better quality sleep. Located in Annandale, VA, Dr. Richard Fischer of Evergreen Dental Wellness offers treatment options for snoring and sleep apnea.
Snoring is the sound that is created when air cannot move freely through the nose and throat when sleeping. When the air does not move through freely, the surrounding soft tissues vibrate. These vibrations create the sounds of snoring. In some cases, snoring may be caused by a cold, acute allergies, or environmental issues, and therefore be transient and harmless. However, chronic or regular snoring may be a symptom of an underlying condition. It may be the result of excess or swollen nasal or throat tissue. It may also be a symptom of sleep apnea.
Snoring and sleep apnea
As the most common form of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the upper airway is blocked during sleep. The blockage may occur when the soft tissues of the throat collapse during sleep. When the airway is blocked, the result is interruptions in breathing.
Because of the broken breathing pattern, sleep apnea patients do not get enough oxygen. The body must work harder to get air. When the brain senses breathing pauses, it panics and sends out a rush of adrenaline resulting in rapid heart rate and elevated blood pressure. This adrenalin boost may also cause a snoring or snorting sound as it jumpstarts breathing again. Unfortunately, this does not just happen once. This cycle of pausing and catching the breath can repeat many times each hour. Without oxygen and proper breathing, patients are not able to sink into a deep, restorative sleep because they are constantly waking up. This does not allow for a proper night’s sleep.
Remember that snoring and sleep apnea are not the same condition. Snoring is one of several symptoms of sleep apnea. On its own, snoring does not automatically mean a patient has this medical condition.
Treatment options for snoring and sleep apnea
Patients who snore or who have symptoms of sleep apnea should seek medical attention to have the condition properly diagnosed. A consultation, exam, and a sleep study may be necessary to assess the symptoms. This determines if sleep apnea is the cause and, if so the severity of the condition. Once the condition has been diagnosed, treatment options are discussed. The treatment or therapy used depends upon the severity of the problem. Regardless of the treatment method used, snoring and sleep apnea treatments aim to achieve the same goal. The goal is to help the patient breathe freely while asleep, to achieve better quality sleep, and to feel more rested in the morning. A treatment plan may include:
- Lifestyle changes may bring about some improvement in snoring and quality of sleep.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines keep the airway open with forced air pressure.
- Oral appliances support the jaw to keep the airway clear while sleeping.
A CPAP machine is often the go-to recommendation for patients with OSA. This machine is used while sleeping. The patient wears a mask that is connected to a machine. Forced air pressure flows through the mask to keep the airway open. This allows patients to breathe more naturally without snoring. They may be used along with other therapies for optimal sleep.
Although an effective treatment, CPAP machines are bulky and hard to travel with, and therefore patient compliance is often compromised. An oral appliance is often an effective alternative snoring and sleep apnea treatment. Oral appliances are like mouth guards. They are customized for each patient to fit the mouth and jaw properly. As a comfortable, portable device, the oral appliance gently moves the lower jaw forward, enabling the airway to remain open during sleep . Patients can breathe more freely without snoring or repeatedly catching the breath. Oral appliances are often appropriate for patients with obstructive sleep apnea.
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