Obstructive sleep apnea is a common disease, as common as diabetes. Unfortunately, most of the patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are unaware that they have this dangerous condition. There is no blood test, there is no red flag seen by your doctor at your annual physical. The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are more commonly pointed out by a spouse. The most common signs of OSA include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring
  • Observed episodes of breathing stopping during sleep
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath or gasping
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep

Consult your doctor if you experience, or if your partner observes the following actions:

  • Snoring loud enough to wake you or your partner
  • Shortness of breath or gasping that awakens you from sleep
  • Pauses in your breathing during sleep
  • Extreme daytime drowsiness. This may cause you to fall asleep while you’re working, watching television or even driving

Many people don’t think of snoring as a sign of something potentially serious, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. But be sure to talk to your doctor if you experience loud snoring, especially snoring that’s punctuated by periods of silence. A definitive diagnosis will require a referral to a sleep center for evaluation.
OSA is a dangerous disease that can cause heart attack, stroke and even death. Chronic diseases such as diabetes are also affected by obstructive sleep apnea.

Following a diagnosis by a sleep physician your prescribed treatment may include sleeping with a CPAP machine. A very large number of patients with OSA cannot or will not tolerate sleeping with the masks and tubes that accompany CPAP therapy. While considered the standard therapy it is not for everyone.

Another option that has been approved for treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea is the oral appliance. Oral appliance therapy is only available through your dental sleep medicine specialist, Dr. Donald Wilcox. Utilizing a custom fitted oral appliance that moves the jaw forward, thus keeping the airway open, many patients are able to achieve a good night’s sleep at last.

If you suffer from OSA or if you or your partner exhibit the symptoms of OSA, please contact Desert Smiles Cosmetic & Sedation Dentistry serving the Arizona area immediately to schedule your consultation. Your overall health is our most important concern.

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