Sleep Apnea and Snoring Treatment for South San Francisco
Snoring can be extremely disruptive to both your natural sleep cycle and to your family members. Sleep apnea is a very common cause of snoring that affects many Americans, often causing heavy snoring and sometimes serious complications with breathing. A pause in your breathing, referred to as an “apnea,” can sometimes occur up to 30 times in one hour and can go unnoticed for years, eventually causing a number of other health problems.
Do I Have Sleep Apnea?
Not every person who is snoring at night suffers with sleep apnea. Only a professional can determine if you are truly affected by this condition. Often symptoms can be ignored for years and not taken seriously, especially because sleep apnea is nearly impossible to self diagnose. If your family members have mentioned snoring or any of the following signs, consider consulting with a qualified doctor for further analysis. Call us in Daly City today and don’t wait any longer to find out if you are suffering from sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
- Pauses in your steady breathing that seem abnormal in nature
- A sign known as hypnopia, which is very shallow breathing
- Without adequate sleep patterns, you may feel unusually tired throughout the day
- Waking up with a headache
- Insomnia from sleep disruption
- Medical studies have reported that long term sleep apnea can have a very dangerous effect and cause additional health issues, including a serious decline in liver functions according to some studies.
What is Involved with Diagnosing Sleep Apnea?
There are many different reasons for disturbed sleep. Begin by talking with your primary care physician about your symptoms. Often a team of doctors are involved in determining sleep disorders, including pulmonologists, neurologists, or other physicians with specific sleep training. Several tests are available for diagnosing sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.
The American Sleep Apnea Association has created the following survey to help you decide whether or not you are at risk for sleep apnea:
- Are you a loud or regular snorer?
- Have you ever been observed to gasp or stop breathing during sleep?
- Do you feel tired or groggy upon awakening?
- Do you wake up with a headache?
- Are you often tired during the day?
- Do you fall asleep while sitting, reading, watching TV or driving?
- Do you have problems with concentration or memory?
You can also rate your sleepiness using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.
Polysomnography (often referred to as a sleep study) is a test used in diagnosing sleep apnea that records a variety of body functions during sleep, such as the electrical activity of the brain, eye movement, muscle activity, heart rate, respiratory effort, air flow, and blood oxygen levels. These tests are used both in diagnosing sleep apnea and to determine its severity.
The Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) measures the speed of falling asleep. The MSLT is useful in measuring the degree of excessive daytime sleepiness and can rule out other types of sleep disorders. In this test, patients are given several opportunities to fall asleep during the course of a day when they would normally be awake. People without sleep problems usually take an average of 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. Individuals who fall asleep in less than 5 minutes are likely to require some treatment for sleep disorders.
Diagnostic tests for sleep disorders usually are performed in a sleep center, but new technology may allow some sleep studies to be conducted in a doctor’s office or the patient’s home.
Dr. Hovden’s San Francisco area office in Daly City has the benefit of Pharyngometry Technology on site. Sound waves are used to measure the interior spaces of the mouth and throat. This information is valuable in diagnosing the source of your problem, and providing the best sleep disorder treatment.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Dr. Hovden’s practice in Daly City near Pacifica is unique in offering a variety of oral dental appliances to better meet your individual needs, helping you achieve a restful, quiet sleep.
In addition, Dr. Hovden’s office in Daly City has the benefit of Pharyngometry Technology on site. Sound waves are used to measure the interior spaces of the mouth and throat. This information is valuable in diagnosing the source of your sleep disorder, and providing the best snoring and sleep apnea treatment.
Dr. Hovden will consider these factors in suggesting a specific snoring or sleep apnea dental appliance:
- Severity of sleep apnea
- Size of soft palate and tongue
- Jaw range of motion
- Patient’s bite
- Jaw structure
- Teeth clinching or grinding
- Health of teeth and gums
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has recognized Oral Appliance Therapy as an effective first line treatment of choice for snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea. Here are just some of the benefits of a sleep apnea dental appliance:
- Easy to tolerate — Nine in ten patients wear the sleep apnea dental appliance all night, every night! Unlike the CPAP sleep apnea machine which patients find difficult to tolerate, compliance with an oral appliance is easy to achieve!
- Immediate results — Many patients experience relief the very first night the sleep apnea dental appliance is worn.
- Easily adjusted — Sleep apnea dental appliances are easily adjusted, making them comfortable. It is simple to maintain the best fit.
- Simple and effective — With Oral Appliance Therapy, there is no need for surgery, medication or the CPAP sleep apnea machine.
Snoring and Sleep Disorders
Millions of people suffer with snoring — and their loved ones suffer, too! While everyone snores occasionally, frequent snoring can affect the quality and quantity of your sleep. Poor sleep can lead to daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased health problems.
Discovering the causes of your snoring and finding the right cure can vastly improve your health, your relationships, and, of course, your sleep!
What Are Some Causes Of Snoring?
The muscles and tissues of the throat relax as sleep settles in, causing the airway to shrink. As the airway becomes smaller, the soft tissues begin to vibrate with inhaling and exhaling, causing snoring. Other common causes of snoring include:
- Age over 40 years old — As you reach middle age and beyond, your throat becomes more narrow, and the muscle tone in your throat decreases.
- Male — Men have a more narrow air passage than women do, and are more likely to snore.
- Family history of snoring and sleep apnea — A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes (which contribute to snoring) can be hereditary. Some groups are at higher risk — Black, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander.
- Nasal and sinus problems — Blocked airways make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring.
- Overweight — Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring.
- Alcohol, smoking, and medications — Alcohol intake, smoking (or second-hand smoke), and certain medications are additional causes of snoring as they increase muscle relaxation.
- Sleep posture — Sleeping flat on your back can cause the soft tissues of your throat to relax and collapse, blocking the airway.
Snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition that requires medical attention. Sleep apnea occurs when the airway completely closes and blocks airflow into the lungs. The brain responds to the lack of oxygen by alerting the body to wake up and begin breathing again. A person with sleep apnea wakes up many times a night to regain breathing, but usually doesn’t remember it. Those suffering from sleep apnea are at risk for serious health problems.
How do you distinguish between snoring and sleep apnea? The most important sign is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep. If you suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness, you should check for sleep apnea.
Snoring and Sleep Disorder Treatment
Behavioral Therapy — Several behaviors can cause sleep disorders. Using alcohol, tobacco and sleeping pills increase the likelihood that the airway will collapse during sleep. Being overweight can also negatively impact a collapsing airway. Even a 10% weight loss can reduce apnea episodes while sleeping. In some patients with mild sleep apnea, breathing pauses occur only when they sleep on their backs. Using pillows or other devices can help encourage a side sleeping position and can prove to be an effective sleep disorder and snoring treatment.
Surgery — Although several surgical procedures are used to treat sleep disorders by increasing the size of the airway, many of these procedures pose risks and vary in success. More than one procedure may need to be tried before the patient realizes any benefits from a surgical sleep disorder treatment.
Mechanical Therapy — Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. This method uses a CPAP machine, often called a sleep apnea machine. The patient wears a mask over the nose during sleep, and pressure from an air blower forces air through the nasal passages. The pressure is constant and continuous. While it can be effective as sleep disorder treatment, CPAP is difficult for many patients to tolerate, due to nasal irritation and drying, facial skin irritation, abdominal bloating, sore eyes and headaches.
Dental Appliances — Oral appliances can be another alternative sleep disorder and snoring treatment. The dental appliances fit over the teeth and hold the lower jaw and tongue in a position to maximize air flow. A highly trained dentist such as Dr. Ken Hovden in San Francisco can evaluate if you are a good candidate for sleep disorder treatment with a dental appliance.
Contact us to schedule a consultation if you are concerned you may be suffering with sleep apnea in Daly City, South San Francisco, or Pacifica.