More than 18 million Americans suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea and 90% go undiagnosed. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious health condition, and snoring is often the first symptom noticed. Although snoring is generally viewed as a minor annoyance, it may often be an indication of a more serious condition such as sleep apnea.
Tom, a safety manager at Ameren Cilco had struggled with snoring and problems sleeping for the past 14 years. “My snoring and gasping for breath was keeping my wife awake, and neither of us were getting quality sleep,” says Tom. “I was tired all the time and cranky because I never felt rested,” he continues.
Tom’s wife, a respiratory nurse, called a pulmonologist she knew who ordered a sleep study for Tom. The sleep study revealed that he had moderate sleep apnea.
“I did a lot or research on sleep apnea, and found that it not only can affect the quality of your life, but also the longevity of your life,” says Tom. “I knew I needed to get treated.”
People with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have a higher risk of death than the normal population. Suffers can experience a potentially crippling deterioration in daily functioning, an increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke, depression and death either in accidents or in their sleep. Family members often feel effects when dealing with their loved one’s frequent irritability, mood changes, lower sexual drive, and reduction of intellectual ability.
The impact of untreated obstructive sleep apnea stretches beyond an individual’s own household – businesses are affected by underperforming workers and lower productivity, while communities are impacted by increased insurance costs as a result of accidents and health care needs. These health care resources are often expended to treat and alleviate the consequences of obstructive sleep apnea, such as heart disease and cardiac arrest, instead of treating the underlying cause.
Tom was prescribed Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) to treat his sleep apnea. “I tried wearing the CPAP for a while he says, but I just got tired of fighting it and it was uncomfortable so I gradually stopped wearing it,” says Tom.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) continues to be the gold standard of treatment for severe obstructive sleep apnea. “If a patient is using CPAP and doing well, I want them to stay on it,” says Dr. Rod Willey of the Illinois Institute of Dental Sleep Medicine. “Unfortunately, many patients find the masks uncomfortable and inconvenient, and frequently discontinue using them for these reasons,” Willey continues.
According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, approximately 40% of patients discontinue using CPAP within a few months. If a patient cannot wear the CPAP, other treatment options include lifestyle changes, surgery and oral appliance therapy.
“I was getting close to trying surgery as a last resort, when I heard about oral appliances from a friend,” says Tom.
Oral Appliance Therapy has proven to be a very viable and scientifically based treatment option for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued a statement in the 2006 journal “SLEEP” that Oral Appliance Therapy was approved as the first line of treatment for those suffering from mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea and is proving to be effective for severe cases as well. The purpose of the oral appliance is to hold the jaw in a position that allows the airway to remain as open and firm as possible during sleep. Oral appliances are similar to athletic mouth guards, but less bulky and completely non-invasive.
“Immediately after I got the appliance my snoring stopped,” says Tom. “Within two weeks of wearing the appliance I woke up feeling that refreshed feeling again, because I was getting a full night’s sleep.”
“Now my wife and I are both getting quality sleep and are much happier and healthier because of the addition of the appliance. As we get older, we think that feeling run down is part of the aging process,” says Tom. “I’m 44 years old and I honestly feel like I’m in my 30’s again by being able to get restful sleep.”
For more information on dental treatment for sleep apnea please contact Dr. Rod Willey (General Dentist) of the Illinois Institute of Dental Sleep Medicine at 309-243-8980 or IllinoisSleepDoc.com.
Signs & Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Feeling tired even after a full night of sleep
- Experiencing consistent headaches in the morning
- Snoring loudly and frequently
- Making choking or snorting sounds during sleep
- Stopping breathing during sleep
- Suffering from depression or irritability
- Family member who has sleep apnea
- Experiencing unexplained weight gain or is having a hard time losing weight
- Frequently getting up to use the use the bathroom during the night
- High blood pressure
- Falling asleep while driving or during periods of daytime inactivity
- Neck size of 17in+ (men) or 16in+ (women)
- Waist size of 40in+ (men) 36in+ (women)
- Body Mass Index (BMI) 30 (men) and 26 (women)
- You are woman with Hypothyroidism or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- You are a menopausal or postmenopausal woman.
Dr. Rod Willey of the Illinois Institute of Dental Sleep Medicine provides oral sleep appliances for the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea to the Peoria, East Peoria, Bloomington, and Galesburg Illinois (IL) areas. To schedule an appointment call 309-243-8980 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org