I’m Tired All Of The Time, But Then Again, I’m Pretty Busy!

You might have noticed you feel fatigued during the day. Many symptoms can indicate sleep apnea, but they may go unnoticed if you’re very busy or find yourself tired all the time. It soon becomes normal to feel fatigued and people often blame it on their hectic schedules. You snore, your sleep is restless, you have trouble concentrating, fall asleep while sitting upright watching anything on TV and you are experiencing other symptoms that have started to concern you. Your bed partner could also be concerned by your snoring or gasping during sleep.

One of the reasons for your problems could be sleep apnea. If you have already spoken to a specialist and received the diagnosis of sleep apnea, there are a few things you can do to improve your condition.  If you think you might have sleep apnea but are unsure, the next step is to take an at home sleep test.

I Just Found Out I Have Sleep Apnea, What Do I Do?

Your treatment will depend on many factors, including the type of sleep apnea you have – mild, moderate or severe. A CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is a great tool to successfully treat sleep apnea as are custom made “MAD”s (Mandibular Advancement Devices).  They work differently from each other so if you have failed or are not interested in a CPAP then you can talk to Dr. Kirkegaard to see if you’re a candidate for a custom made Mandibular Advancement Device.  

Of course, always take into consideration what your doctor has recommended to you and the treatment plan that has been given to you personally.

So, What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that affects nearly 22 million Americans and up to 1 billion people across the world – that's a billion with a “B”!  OSA affects the quality of your sleep and significantly reduces your overall health if left untreated. This condition can completely stop or severely limit your breathing for 20-80 seconds multiple times during the night!

Sleep apnea can lead to other health problems such as:

  • Diabetes 
  • Heart failure 
  • Memory and attention difficulties
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Erectile and sexual dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Teeth grinding & TMJ-disorders

There are two types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Which happens when the airway is blocked or heavily restricted repeatedly over the night. The breath can then come back with an intense gasp or a continual snoring.  This is what is most commonly treated with a MAD or CPAP.
  • Central sleep apnea: In this case, the airways are not blocked, but the condition has to do with the incorrect function of the central nervous system.  This can be treated with electrical stimulation in many cases and requires additional follow up with a specialist.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea can affect anyone, including children.  The data over the last two decades is crushing the stereotype that people who have OSA are “55 year old men that are overweight”.  We are finding that Obstructive Sleep Apnea can affect all body types, males, females, young, old, and even all different types of fitness levels! (There are pro-athletes that suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea!) 

If you suspect you might suffer from sleep apnea, the next step would be to take a home sleep test, either through our office or your primary care physician.

What To Do After An Obstructive Sleep Apnea Diagnosis?

Once your diagnosis has been established, your doctor will determine the best treatment based on what causes your sleep apnea and how severe it is. 

There are also a few lifestyle changes that you can implement to help with your sleep apnea:

  • Try to maintain a healthy weight 
  • Keep your body active 
  • Reduce or cut out alcohol 
  • Stop smoking (helps your oral health too ;-)!
  • Avoid medications that can worsen the condition (usually anti-anxiety medication and sleeping pills)
  • Avoid sleeping on your back 

These changes can be more or less effective depending on how severe the condition is. 

Other treatments include:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) 
  • Custom made oral appliance “Mandibular Advancement device or MAD” 
  • Nasal pillow 
  • Surgery 
  • Airway stimulation 

Talk to your doctor to get a proper assessment and diagnosis. This way, you will get a treatment that targets your specific issue. 

Are You Struggling With Sleep Apnea? We Can Help You! 

Did you know that obstructive sleep apnea can also be treated by dentists working hand in hand with sleep physicians? 

At The Art of Dentistry, we offer a wide range of dental services, including treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. We use state-of-the-art equipment and have an experienced and knowledgeable team on our side. That's how we are able to offer our patients the best care they can get in Overland Park. 

If you would like to meet us, get in touch and we can schedule an appointment with Dr. Kory Kirkegaard.

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