When a person is unable to secure quality sleep for any length of time, we may say that she has insomnia. We may assume that stress is the culprit, or some type of physical pain, maybe. What we might easily overlook is the way a person breathes when he sleeps, and how that may be standing in the way of the sleep he needs for health and wellness. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that currently affects 18 million Americans. It is dangerous even once it has been diagnosed, so it is extremely concerning that reports estimate that up to 80 percent of people with obstructive sleep apnea don’t even know it.
Consequences of Untreated Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a particular type of this sleep disorder that relates to the openness of the airway during sleep. Therefore, it is the type of sleep apnea that offers the most hope of resolution; and resolution is what we want. When a person lives years of his life under the stress of sleep-loss related to sleep apnea, there is an increased risk of:
- Depression and anxiety.
- Heart disease, including heart failure.
- High blood pressure.
- Adverse surgical outcomes.
- Chronic kidney disease
- The risk of death also quadruples for the individual with moderate to severe sleep apnea.
- Severely disrupted quality of life.
Have you Been Diagnosed?
If you have already been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, you may be one of the many people who has been prescribed CPAP therapy. Research indicates that CPAP patients eventually stop following their protocol either because they feel better or due to unpleasant aspects of this treatment.
There are other options
Patients who are CPAP intolerant may gain the relief they need with Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure, or BiPAP. There is also data that shows promising results with oral appliance therapy, a device that fits comfortably in the mouth and holds the airway open through proper jaw positioning. Finally, Balloon Sinus Dilation is a technique that has helped thousands of individuals manage obstructive sleep apnea. This procedure, which is routinely performed in our St. Louis office, improves air flow without complicated treatment or lengthy recovery.