A follow up to our last Sleep Apnea article
As I stated in last month, there are serious health implications to untreated sleep apnea.
The first step is a referral to your MD who in turn would refer you to a sleep clinic. At the sleep clinic, you would spend the night and there they would monitor the quality of sleep you get and the number of episodes in which you stop breathing and for how long.
I did not mention in the last newsletter, the other reason sleep is so important is it allows our body to repair itself. But, you need to get the proper REM sleep phase in order for your body to recover.
Another aspect is weight loss is difficult without proper sleep.
Once the sleep study has been performed and evaluated. There are 3 forms of sleep apnea: mild, moderate and severe. The number of episodes that you stop breathing in 1 hour is how they rate you in terms of mild to severe. There have been a number of treatments over the years, but to date the gold standard is a CPAP, especially for sever sleep apnea. CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure, works as the name suggests by keeping the airway open with positive constant pressure. The big problem with CPAP’s is compliance. Many patients just do not wear them (ie over 50% never wear it).
The other treatment option is an oral appliance, which works by positioning the lower jaw forward slightly, which in turn opens the airway. This appliance works well for mild to moderate sleep apnea. With regards to severe sleep apnea, the oral appliances can be used in combination with the CPAP, in order to lower the pressure and hence make the CPAP more tolerable.
One other choice if the CPAP is not tolerable, is to just go with an oral sleep appliance, which will improve but not eliminate the sleep apnea (therefore is not ideal, but still beneficial). There a numerous variations of the appliance depending on the patients anatomy and muscular makeup.
Dr. Ian Gray
Dr. Ian Gray