Get the Sleep You Deserve!

Our own member, Alan Erickson, DDS, was our speaker on November 15.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a potentially life-threatening medical disorder that affects the way one sleeps, causing abnormal breathing, including the stopping of breathing completely.  When you stop breathing, you wake up many times in the night.
It is estimated that there could be up to 30 million people in the United States with OSA.   Most cases are undiagnosed!  Youngsters often think that there could be a bogeyman under their bed that could threaten their life.  As adults, the OSA is the real bogeyman that could be threatening your life.
Signs of or OSA, often referred to as Apnea, include:
  • Loud Snoring
  • Headaches
  • Memory Loss
  • Daytime Sleepiness
  • Reduced Attention 
  • Poor Concentration
  • Driving Drowsy
Because symptoms are often vague and they may seem completely unrelated, it is important to see a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment recommendations.  It must be diagnosed by a board certified sleep physician either at a sleep lab where one is hooked up to monitoring devices, or a home sleep test.  
There are a few good options for treatment of OSA.  Rarely can it be cured, although there is a surgery that has side effects and may not be effective.
CPAP is the most effective treatment but unfortunately less than half of the patients who are prescribed a CPAP still use it after one year.  Some disadvantages include difficulty packing for travel, the need for an electrical source, uncomfortable straps, mask and hose, difficulty cleaning.
For those that find a CPAP intolerable, oral appliance (OA) therapy can be an effective alternative.  This is where a dentist can step in to provide relief.  Al is a Diplomat of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and he has the Sleep Advantage Clinic in the Cumulus Park Medical Center in Smokey Point. 
Al showed some photos of the type of appliance he prescribes.  Here is an example:
Sleep apnea has been linked to heart failure.  It is estimated that approximately 38,000 deaths occur each year that relate to cardiovascular problems that may be connected to the effect of oxygen deprivation caused by OSA.
For more on OSA, visit Dr. Erickson's website by clicking on the image below: