Your Best Night’s Sleep

Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night?

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be one of more than 12 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea causes your breathing to stop periodically while you sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the lack of oxygen alerts your brain. Your Brain then wakes you up to restart proper breathing.

Since the spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don’t even remember that they woke up. You may even feel like you’re getting a good night’s sleep when, in fact, you haven’t.

The constant wake-sleep, wake-sleep cycle prevents those with sleep apnea from achieving deep sleep, resulting in a constant drowsy feeling during the day.

Are There Different Types of Sleep Apnea?

There are three categories of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat.

Less common is central sleep apnea (CSA), in which breathing stops because the muscles involved don’t receive the proper signal from the brain. And some people suffer from “mixed” or “complex” sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central.

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in males than females and more common in older adults (40+) than younger adults and children. However, anyone — regardless of gender or age — can suffer from sleep apnea.

Other risk factors include obesity, smoking, drinking, use of sedatives or tranquilizers, and family history. Central sleep apnea strikes most often in people with heart disorders, neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors.

Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem. If left untreated, it can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. The ongoing state of fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to problems at work or school, as well as danger when driving or operating heavy machinery.

Sleep apnea can also cause complications with medication or surgery; sedation by anesthesia can be risky, as can lying flat in bed after an operation. If you know or suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, let your family doctor know before taking prescribed medication or having surgery.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Treatments for sleep apnea depend on the severity of each individual case and the type of apnea.

At Thacker Orthodontics, your basic treatment can be behavioral — for instance, patients are instructed to lose weight, stop smoking, or sleep on their sides instead of on their backs.

Beyond that, Dr. Jim Thacker and Dr. MaryEvan Thacker can use oral devices to position the mouth in such a way that prevents throat blockage. In more severe cases, surgery may be the best option.

If You Suspect Sleep Apnea

Contact our Cincinnati or Hillsboro practice, and Dr. Jim Thacker or Dr. MaryEvan Thacker can refer you to a sleep apnea specialist.

The specialist may recommend a sleep study to diagnose the precise extent of the problem and can prescribe appropriate treatment.

Depending on your situation, treatment may involve an oral device that Dr. Jim Thacker or Dr. MaryEvan Thacker can custom-create for you.