Obstructive Sleep Apnea Facts

Burds_InternalPhotos_SleepApneaFactsFacts about Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Patient education is vitally important to Dr. Burds. When patients feel well-informed, they are better equipped to make smart decisions about their health and well-being. Please read through our frequently asked questions to learn more about obstructive sleep apnea. If you still have questions or concerns, please feel free to call us and schedule a consultation with Dr. Burds.

What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

In the most straightforward terms, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when your airway becomes completely blocked by throat tissue during sleep. As a result of the blocked airway, you stop breathing and your blood oxygen levels plummet. Your brain senses the lack of oxygen and forces you to wake up. As you awaken, the muscles in your throat contract, reopening your airway. This cycle of falling asleep, cessation of breathing, and waking up can occur hundreds of time every night.

Is there a Cure for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

OSA cannot be cured. However, clinical treatment can dramatically reduce the severity of your condition. Common treatment options include oral appliance therapy and CPAP machines. The key to successfully treating OSA is consistent use. You may have invested in the best CPAP machine available on the market, but if you don’t use it, you’re not going to experience any reduction in severity. Many patients are delighted to learn they have a convenient alternative to CPAP. In fact, oral appliance therapy is often prescribed for patients who have been diagnosed with OSA but who find it difficult or impossible to comply with CPAP treatment.  In addition, certain lifestyle changes can complement clinical treatment to further reduce the severity of your symptoms.

Are Snoring and Sleep Apnea the Same Condition?

OSA is characterized by loud snoring, often accompanied by intermittent choking or gasping sounds. However, a person who snores does not necessarily have OSA. Whereas sleep apnea occurs due to a complete blockage of the airway, snoring occurs when air flows through a partially blocked airway. As the air passes the tissue, it creates the vibrations responsible for snoring.

Are Certain People at a Higher Risk for Sleep Apnea?

In general, those with a higher risk for developing OSA include people who are:

  • Overweight or obese (link to Lifestyle and Sleep Apnea)
  • Smokers
  • Male
  • Over age 40
  • Allergy suffers

In addition, if you have a family history of sleep apnea, if you suffer from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux), or if you have large tonsils or excess throat tissue, you may have a higher risk for developing sleep apnea.

How Serious is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

When you consider the range of health problems closely associated with OSA, it becomes clear that this sleep disorder is more than an annoyance. A vast body of clinical research has linked sleep apnea to problems such as:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and other emotional disorders

Recent research has even shown that people with untreated sleep apnea have a higher risk for getting into automobile collisions.

Get the Facts About Sleep Apnea Treatment

If you believe you have sleep apnea or have been diagnosed with the disorder, then get the facts about how we can help you rest better with sleep apnea treatment. To schedule an appointment, contact our Des Moines dentist’s office at 515-244-0329 or email us at [email protected].