Treatment options for snoring and sleep apnea Lake County, OH
We live in a sleep deprived society. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports that approximately one-third of adults do receive adequate sleep on a regular basis. Not surprisingly, many people consider fatigue and daytime drowsiness normal. Yet, sometimes the problem isn’t all about quantity of sleep, but rather quality of sleep. An estimated one in four American adults suffers from OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), a harmful and under-diagnosed sleep disorder. For many, the only noticeable symptom is snoring. If you are among them, Dr. Stern and the team of Snoring and CPAP Solutions LLC in Lake County, OH can help, with comfortable and convenient treatment options.
The difference between snoring and apnea
Snoring is a common problem that affects most adults at least occasionally. It is simply the sound of air passing through a restricted space, usually because soft tissues around the airway relax and sag during deep sleep. Aside from the noise disrupting others, snoring is generally harmless – but it can be a symptom of a serious sleep disorder.
Apnea is a pause in breathing. Like snoring, it usually happens when tissues relax. However, the airway is not just restricted, but completely blocked. When this happens, the body becomes oxygen-deprived, triggering a panic reaction in the brain. Adrenaline is released, and the person begins to wake. As the person transitions from deep to light sleep muscle relaxation lessens and breathing resumes, usually accompanied by coughing, gasping, or loud snoring. Often, the affected individual never fully wakes up. Sometimes he or she will awaken but not know why.
If it were an anomaly, this brief interruption in breathing would not be cause for concern. When it happens dozens or hundreds of times each night it becomes a serious health concern. The cumulative effects of oxygen deprivation, adrenaline spikes, blood pressure fluctuations, and sleep disturbance can be devastating. This condition is known as obstructive sleep apnea. It can steal away your energy, blur your mental focus, and increase your risk for numerous other health conditions.
What is CPAP?
For patients with sleep apnea, the most commonly prescribed medical treatment is continuous positive airway pressure, better known as CPAP. It utilizes a machine that generates air pressure. The patient wears a nasal or full face mask, which has a tube connecting it to the machine. This forces air into the patient’s airway, preventing it from entirely collapsing.
When uses as directed, CPAP has a very high rate of effectiveness, even for patients with severe apnea. Yet, it has a very low patient satisfaction rating. In fact, fewer than half of CPAP patients actually use the machine nightly, and some quit using it at all. If you’ve never worn CPAP, you might be wondering why so many people would reject a therapy that works well. There are many reasons, ranging from discomfort and inconvenience to respiratory problems associated with high-humidity poor-quality air. Many people claim that the machine disrupts sleep much more than apnea does.
Examining alternatives to CPAP
Thankfully, patients do not have to choose between CPAP and declining apnea treatment. There are alternative therapies available. These include:
- Breathing machines – APAP, PPAP, or BiPAP are very similar to CPAP, with slight differences in air delivery method. In certain situations, they are more effective, but the majority of patients experience similar issues with any breathing machine.
- Surgery – In the most severe cases, it may be necessary to remove tissue or alter structures to prevent airway collapse. Due to the risks and recovery time inherent to any surgical procedure, most patients and doctors consider this a last resort, only recommended when other options fail.
- COAT – Continuous open airway therapy is an innovative approach to sleep apnea treatment, which does not require cumbersome machines or invasive procedures. This approach utilizes a small oral appliance that supports the airway, preventing it from collapsing during sleep.
The best path to sound sleep
We find that most people want to avoid CPAP, opting for a COAT type oral appliance when possible. The ideal treatment depends on your preferences and medical needs. Before making a treatment recommendation, we will evaluate your condition, discuss symptoms, and arrange a sleep study if needed. Generally, the best candidates for oral appliance therapy are those who:
- Have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea
- Experience hypopnea or disruptive snoring
- Cannot tolerate CPAP and similar therapies
- Want a backup alternative to CPAP while traveling or during power outages