Sleep apnea is an insidious disorder that can affect your health and your life in extremely negative ways. And yet, many of those who suffer from sleep apnea in Asheville never know they have it. They don’t feel good. They may be cranky. They may even have trouble staying awake while driving or working. They just can’t figure out why. That’s often because sleep apnea sounds a lot like snoring – though really, the indicator is actually when snoring stops!
The biggest issue with sleep apnea is that it is actually life-threatening. Between drowsy driving (which is the cause of more fatal car accidents than drunk driving), the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, and sudden death from lack of oxygen, sleep apnea is nothing to ignore!
So What Exactly Is Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the tongue and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat while you’re asleep. This blocks the upper airway, causing airflow to stop. When the oxygen level drops low enough, the brain moves out of deep sleep, and you partially awaken. The airway then contracts and opens, causing the obstruction in the throat to clear. The flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp. When the airflow starts again, you move back into sleep. Then the process repeats… Over and over and over.
Indeed, the combination of low oxygen levels and disturbed, interrupted sleep are major contributors to the ill effects sleep apnea patients suffer. No wonder you never feel rested! We don’t want that for our Asheville and Clyde sleep apnea patients!
Interestingly, research is showing a significant overlap (up to 70%) between Obstructive Sleep Apnea, even the mild form known as Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome, and TMJ disorders. One does not cause the other–they are both caused by “inadequate craniofacial anatomy” which is fancy language for “not enough room for your tongue”.
Could You Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Do you snore? If you answered yes, you know how annoying snoring can be. (And so does your significant other.) Snoring can be more than an annoyance. It can be a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
When the snoring stops, so does your breathing. Sleep apnea can cause a person to stop breathing for periods of time, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer. This cessation of breathing can cause a variety of problems.
Do you have any of the following symptoms?
- Daytime sleepiness
- Chronic fatigue
- Morning headache
- Impaired memory and judgment
- Mood disturbance
You may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. If you suspect you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, see your family doctor or call Dr. Highsmith, your sleep apnea dentist in Asheville, immediately for diagnosis.
A Matter of Life and Death
It’s worth repeating: Sleep apnea can be dangerous to your health and well-being. It can even be life-threatening. Sleep apnea patients are much more likely to suffer from:
- Heart problems (heart attack, congestive heart failure, hypertension)
- A higher incidence of work-related and driving-related accidents
- High blood pressure
- Generalized inflammation
- Bruxing (teeth grinding)
- Sexual dysfunction
- High blood pressure
It’s easy to see why, if left untreated, Obstructive Sleep Apnea can shorten the average lifespan by 10 years.
Finally, Get the Restorative Rest You Need
If you have sleep apnea in Clyde, you are in luck. Dr. Highsmith has completed advanced training to recognize and diagnose various sleep problems, including sleep apnea, associated with oral misalignment of nose and mouth structure.
Dr. Highsmith can prescribe and fit a special custom-made oral appliance to gently and safely hold the mouth and throat in an open position during relaxed sleep, prevent snoring, and allow air to flow freely.
If you are currently wearing a CPAP successfully, don’t change what’s working! The oral appliance is not better than CPAP, it is an alternative treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea for those in Asheville or Clyde who cannot wear a CPAP.
We’ve tried and used a variety of oral appliances and now choose to use the Micro O2 appliance. When using Neuromuscular Physiologic principles in taking the bite, this appliance works very well and minimizes potential complications.
What About a Sleep Study?
If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea in Asheville, but haven’t yet started treatment because you have to undergo a sleep study, consider this: Dr. Highsmith offers a home sleep study to prevent you having to spend a night at a special facility.
Don’t put off undergoing a sleep study for sleep apnea because you don’t feel comfortable going to a sleep lab or hospital. With the advanced technology used by Dr. Highsmith, you can do the sleep study in the comfort of your own home. Even your own bed!
Accurate and convenient, this home sleep study gives you the results you need in the privacy of your own home. The home test that Dr. Highsmith uses is only a screening—he understands that a MD must make the diagnosis of Sleep Apnea, for good reason. As a dentist, we do not diagnose medical conditions.
Dr. Highsmith uses both the Watch-PAT100 and the MediByte for your home sleep study. This innovative technology provides diagnosis, treatment assessment and follow-up of sleep-related breathing disorders.
Both devices are very comfortable, so you’ll be able to sleep while you undergo your study. The technology is worn on the wrist and uses a non-invasive finger probe to measure vascular and nervous system activity that can be indicative of OSA. The MediByte uses a soft nasal cannula to measure airflow. The data is stored in a memory card. Once you return the device to Dr. Highsmith, he can determine your plan of treatment.
If you would like to learn more about the home sleep study, call Dr. Highsmith’s office today.