Obstructive sleep apnea is a severe condition that affects nearly 25 million people in the U.S. This condition causes people to stop breathing sometimes hundreds of times per night for a period of a few seconds to several minutes, due to a fully or partially collapsed airway. As you could imagine, this greatly decreases the benefits of sleep that our bodies need to function properly, leading to increased daytime sleepiness and low energy levels.
More importantly, when you stop breathing at night, your brain’s lack of oxygen sends a message to your heart to increase blood flow to the brain. Over time, this can lead to severe increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and congestive heart failure. This is the reason why sleep apnea can take up to 12-15 years off of a person’s life. So, who is at risk for this disease? Anyone who snores (sometimes women “puff” and don’t snore), is overweight, experiences daytime fatigue, acid reflux, morning headaches, diabetes, or has high blood pressure. The good news is that many of the above symptoms or conditions can be eliminated or greatly reduced with proper treatment of the sleep apnea.
A sleep study, which monitors your oxygen levels, heart rate, breathing rate, and other vital signs is necessary to obtain and be interpreted by a sleep physician for a diagnosis. In some cases Dr. Yoder will send you to a trusted sleep lab for the test. Other times, he can give you a small monitor so that you can take the study in the comfort of your home. Until recently, the most common treatment was the use of a CPAP machine, where a mask fits over your nose or nose and mouth providing you with continuous airflow during the night. Recently, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recognized oral appliances as a first line therapy for mild and moderate sleep apnea. An oral device is worn like a mouth guard and is designed to bring your lower jaw forward in order to allow you to breathe better during sleep.
Dr. Will Yoder has taken hours of advanced continuing education in the area of sleep medicine and prides himself on being able to offer this life-changing service to patients. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, call and schedule a consultation with Dr. Yoder. Once a diagnosis is made and if an oral appliance is an effective solution for you, Dr. Yoder has the equipment and knowledge to create the best oral appliance specific to your needs so that you can sleep better immediately and live a longer and healthier life.