Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is only the most common of a group of conditions, collectively known as Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB), and is characterised by pauses in breathing, often up to 40 seconds or more, leading to a reduction in the oxygen level in the blood during sleeping.
In recent years, it has become apparent that SDB and snoring are not as harmless as previously thought. In fact, clinical analyses have identified substantial evidence to link SDB to some very serious medical conditions that primarily affect cardiovascular and neuro-behavioral systems.
Recent evidence has also shown that it is not only adults who are affected, but that SDB can also affect children and may be linked to reduced growth, learning and cognitive deficits, as well as behavioural problems which resemble attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
If SDB is not diagnosed early enough to institute proper treatment in time then it may be too late to completely reverse some of these serious complications later in life thus leading to long-lasting residual health consequences.
Somewhere in excess of 10% of snorers actually have an underlying sleep apnoea (the pauses in breathing referred to above) where the upper airway gets closed off by collapsing soft tissue in the back of the throat leading to continual pauses in breathing while you are asleep.
Quite often all you are aware of is being tired when you wake up and feel like you’ve had a bad night’s sleep.
The problem with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), quite apart from waking up feeling exhausted, is that not only can it lead to daytime sleepiness, which can be fatal if you do a lot of driving, but it has also been associated with a myriad of other symptoms, including mood changes, irritability, anxiety, depression, nocturia and even a decreased sex drive.
OSA has also been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and even diabetes with a growing body of epidemiological evidence supporting a link between insulin resistant diabetes and sleep disordered breathing, the clinical manifestation of OSA.
What can we do about it?
The gold standard for treating severe OSA is still CPAP therapy. However, for mild and mild to moderate OSA an individually customised adjustable dental sleep appliance is the frontline treatment.
If you can’t or won’t use a CPAP machine then even with severe sleep apnoea you should consider having a dental sleep appliance made as the appliance can still reduce the occurrence of the apnoeas by up to 70% which is often enough to dramatically reduce your risk of suffering the effects of OSA.
If you intend to travel for an extended period of time or even travel frequently, then a dental sleep appliance is far more convenient than carrying a CPAP machine, hoses and mask around in your luggage.
To book an appointment with one of our Dental Sleep Medicine experts for an initial consultation with regard to your sleep disordered breathing please call Ashlee on (03) 9720 1719.