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Diagnosis and Treatment of Sleep Apnea

Diagnosis and Treatment of Sleep Apnea

Mar 07, 2022

The average human being requires about seven hours of sleep to fit physically and mentally. Sleep is a natural state of relaxation in which you are unconscious, and your awareness of environmental stimuli and bodily functions reduce. Sleep is essential to perform some vital body functions, and inadequate sleep weakens your heart and immune system, leads to obesity, and decreases productivity. It is necessary to get at least seven hours of quality sleep to prevent these. However, sleep disorders like sleep apnea deny you the luxury of a good night’s sleep; therefore, you should seek treatment in a dental clinic in Leesburg.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder that causes your breath to start and repeatedly stop while you are asleep, making you snore loudly. Caused by blockage or issues with your nervous system, sleep apnea makes you tired during the day even after thinking you have had a whole night’s sleep. That leads to an inability to concentrate and decreased productivity during the day. According to a sleep apnea organization, 30 million American adults live with sleep apnea, but more than 80% are unaware. If left untreated, sleep apnea leads to a myriad of health problems.

Types Of Sleep Apnea

There are three major types of sleep apnea classified according to what causes them. They include:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This is the most common type of sleep apnea; it occurs due to repeated episodes of complete or partial blockage of the upper airway while you are sleeping. As the pressure increases, your diaphragm and chest muscles work hard to open the blocked airway. It happens due to the relaxation of the muscles at the back of your throat. Nasal congestion, obesity, smoking, old age, etc., increase your risks of developing obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: This occurs when your brain fails to signal your muscles to breathe. Linked to the functions of the central nervous system, it is a result of instability in the respiratory control center. Using narcotic pain medications, having a stroke, old age, heart disorders, etc., increase your risk of developing central sleep apnea.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome: This is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. It occurs when an individual has both types of sleep apnea.

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

When you notify Dr. Jane O. Stewart of your sleep apnea, he will try to rule out other reasons for your symptoms by going through your medical history and performing a physical exam to determine your risks of having sleep apnea. Your dentist will likely refer you to a sleep disorder center where a sleep specialist will help with further evaluation. This evaluation involves overnight monitoring of your breathing and other body functions at a sleep laboratory through:

  • Nocturnal Polysomnography: This is a test that involves the monitoring of your heart, lungs, brain activity, arm, and leg movements, breathing patterns, and blood oxygen while you sleep with the aid of equipment.
  • Home Sleep Tests (HST): These are simplified tests provided to you at home to diagnose sleep apnea. These tests measure your heart rate, blood oxygen levels, airflow, and breathing patterns.

Treatment Of Sleep Apnea

There are different treatment methods that a dentist in Leesburg might try to use to cure sleep apnea. These include:

Conservative Treatment

Dentists can treat obstructive sleep apnea through conservative therapy such as:

  • Weight loss.
  • Use of wedge pillows.
  • Use of nasal sprays or breathing strips.
  • Avoidance of alcohol and certain sleeping pills.

Mechanical Therapy

Positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is an excellent method of treating obstructive sleep apnea. It involves patients wearing a mask that gently forces air through the nose/mouth to prevent the upper airway tissues from collapsing while you are asleep. Styles and types of mechanical therapy devices include:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
  • Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure.
  • Adaptive Servo-ventilation (ASV).
  • Auto CPAP or Auto Bi-level PAP.

Special Devices

A dentist in 20176 might suggest special devices such as Mandibular advancement devices and Hypoglossal nerve stimulators for sleep apnea treatment.


Surgical procedures help people with sleep apnea and people who do not have sleep apnea but snore. These surgical procedures include:

  • Nasal surgery.
  • Tonsillectomy.
  • Somnoplasty.
  • Mandibular/maxillary advancement surgery.
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty.

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