Published: Dec 22, 2013 | By: Richard Caven
Did you know that someone who complains about your snoring could actually be doing you a favor that could ultimately save your life? More often than not, chronic snoring may signal the onset of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
A potentially life-threatening disorder, sleep apnea is caused by airway obstructions that block the opening completely, such as the tongue and other excessive soft tissues, causing those afflicted to actually stop breathing in small intervals entirely. Over the course of the night, these breathing cessations can unknowingly occur dozens and dozens of times an hour, subconsciously jolting the wannabe sleeper out of their deeper slumber by gasping for air, all without actually waking up. Left untreated, in addition to daily fatigue and sleepiness, they can also lead to structural and functional damage of the heart, similar to those which are associated with chronic high blood pressure.
Arrhythmia, stroke, heart disease, and heart failure are among the other possibly fatal risks linked to sleep apnea.
You may not associate this kind of corrective therapy with a dental office, but Dr. Caven has utilized effective treatment for mild to moderate OSA directly in his practice. Many facilities can test for OSA, but Jacksonville's Mayo Clinic has elevated the very scientific process of diagnosing OSA to an art. Since proper diagnosis is key to an effective recovery, Dr. Caven insists that the study, which can also be done in your home if you prefer, be performed as the basis of an effective treatment plan.
He's even adopted the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, a classic risk assessment tool that you can use as a preliminary screening test right now, just by clicking on the preceding link. Sleeping disorders are usually associated with scores of 11 or higher, warranting closer attention and a more thorough evaluation by Dr. Caven. There's also the Sleep Observer Scale, an effective screening tool that can be used by those concerned about the well-being of another and whose own sleep has been disrupted by excessive snoring of this kind.
Once detected, there are a number of effective therapies that can be employed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is often prescribed for the more than 18 million Americans who suffer from OSA. This approach pushes air into the lungs with the aid of a face mask by relaxing the tongue and throat muscles that block airways during sleep. While the medical community agrees on its efficacy, it just as readily supports the notion that the CPAP machine must be used every night to offset the potential cardiovascular risks; and an overwhelming number of people have trouble tolerating the requisite face mask to the extent that they elect to abandon the protocol and go untreated for this serious medical condition.
One alternative is to have Dr. Caven customize a less invasive oral appliance, equally adept at opening compromised airways and reversing the severity of your condition while increasing your probability for successful follow-through, around your needs. Other treatments, still, can involve losing weight, changing your sleeping posture, avoiding medications (particularly sedatives), and reducing nighttime alcohol consumption. More drastic measures can be taken to remove your uvula and soft palate through invasive surgery.
As you can see, there are a number of directions, depending on your individual diagnosis, preferences, and needs that can be taken. Let Dr. Caven help you determine what's best if you or someone you love is affected by excessive snoring that could be the result of a more serious underlying condition like OSA.
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