What Is Sleep Apnea? – Ballston Spa, NY

Learn More about OSA

Sleep apnea is a disorder where a person stops breathing temporarily and repeatedly during the night. These pauses, called apneas, can last for ten seconds or more, and they can happen hundreds of times a night. The body basically goes into panic mode to restore breathing, and this dramatically reduces the restfulness of a person’s sleep. However, many patients wake up in the morning with no memory of these pauses in breathing.

Why Choose Integrative Sleep Center for Sleep Apnea Treatment?

  • Accredited by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
  • Friendly & Experienced Team
  • Highly Trained Dentist

Do I Have Sleep Apnea?

There are two main types of sleep apnea: Central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs when the brain stops sending the proper signals to the body to breathe, while the more common obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the tissues in the mouth and throat collapse and block the airway. Some people even have a complex form of sleep apnea, which is a combination of the two. Unfortunately, the symptoms of sleep apnea are very wide ranging, which is why about 80% of people suffering from it are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. There are a few key indicators to look for, however:

  • Loud, chronic snoring
  • Waking up out of breath or gasping for air
  • Morning headaches, sore throat, or dry mouth
  • Excessive day time sleepiness, exhaustion, or fatigue
  • Inability to focus
  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings and changes in behavior
  • Sexual dysfunction

How We Can Treat Sleep Apnea

The first step to treating sleep apnea is to get a proper diagnosis. This will help determine if you are suffering from the disorder, and whether it is CSA, OSA, or both. Dr. Fred Dreher at Integrative Sleep Center suggests than any patient who is seeking answers to their sleep problems should start by taking the STOP-BANG assessment. This short, eight question quiz will give us vital information as to your risk for sleep apnea. Once you take it, our team will analyze the results and contact you within 24 hours. If it is likely they you have sleep apnea, we may recommend that you have a complete sleep study performed to get a proper diagnosis.

For those suffering from OSA, Dr. Dreher can offer treatment using oral appliance therapy. This is the first recommended treatment solution by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and it has shown itself to be a viable alternative to traditional CPAP therapy. Oral appliance therapy can even be combined with a CPAP machine to help those suffering from severe OSA or CSA. This is all dependent on your particular situation, and if you want to find out more, simply contact our office today.

Sleep Apnea Facts

  • Adults who get 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night should not feel tired throughout the day.
  • Sleep apnea patients have a higher likelihood of being obese, having trouble losing weight, and experiencing difficulties in keeping the weight off.
  • Sleep apnea can damage the memory just as badly as drug addiction, alcoholism, and even Alzheimer’s
  • Sleep apnea is often misdiagnosed as insomnia, which is a large reason why most patients do not get the right treatment.
  • Snoring does not automatically indicate sleep apnea, but it does increase the risk of a person developing a sleep disorder in the future. Oral appliance therapy can help prevent this, and therefore abate the health issues associated with the disorder such as cardiovascular disease, mood problems, and acid reflux.
  • Driving exhausted is actually more dangerous than driving drunk. Multiple studies have shown that a person who is regularly sleep-deprived is 15 times more likely to get into a motor vehicle accident.
  • Research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation has found that of the 20 million people suffering from sleep apnea, nearly 80% are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
  • Untreated sleep apnea can lead to a drastic reduction in a person’s life span. People with completely uncontrolled sleep apnea do not tend to live past age 55.
  • Sleep apnea is one of the most common causes of decreased libido and sexual dysfunction.
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom during the night could be a sign of undiagnosed sleep apnea.
  • People with sleep apnea are more likely to grind their teeth at night.
  • Patients with large necks or tongues are at an increased risk of developing sleep apnea.

Snoring: It’s More Than Just Annoying

One of the most common signs that a patient may have sleep apnea is loud, chronic snoring. It occurs because the passing air is causing the tissues in the mouth and throat to vibrate (similar to how speaking and singing work). While snoring does not automatically indicate that a person has sleep apnea, it does mean that they are not able to breathe freely throughout the night, and this can drastically affect the quality of their sleep. Over time, a minor airway obstruction can easily develop into a serious one, leading to full-blown obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Oral appliance therapy can be used to successfully treat consistent snoring. This will help a patient breathe better at night and avoid the multiple health problems brought on brought on by a lack of quality sleep. This snoring treatment is also a great relief for anyone who shares a bed with a snorer.

A CPAP Alternative

For decades, the gold standard for helping a person with sleep apnea was CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) therapy. This involves a patient wearing a mask connected to an air pump that forces air into the throat in order to keep it unobstructed. If this sounds uncomfortable, you are not alone. The face mask on its own causes many patients to feel constricted, and some even mention feeling claustrophobic. Others simply can’t get used to the sensation of air be pushed into the throat or the noise the machine creates. And, some patients are actually CPAP intolerant, meaning the machine doesn’t actually help with their sleep apnea.

Thankfully, Dr. Fred Dreher is able to offer another effective treatment option — oral appliance therapy. These small, custom-made mouthguards are easy to use, store, and transport. They work by gently repositioning the jaw so that the airway can’t become blocked during the night, and patients are much more likely to use them than a CPAP because they are much more comfortable. There are also very effective, and over 90% of the people who wear them consistently have experienced a dramatic increase in their quality of sleep.

Will My Insurance Cover Sleep Apnea?

Oral appliance therapy is often included in a patient’s medical insurance plan. In fact, it is now often included as part of dental insurance plans as well. Our knowledgeable team is used to working with insurance companies, so we can make sure you get the most out of your benefits. To make things even simpler, we’ll even process and file the claims for you. We accept plans from most of the major insurance providers, including Medicare. If you have any questions about how your insurance can be used to help you treat your sleep apnea, contact our office. We’re happy to serve patients in Ballston Spa, Saratoga Springs, Cohoes, Watervliet, Schenectady, Gloversville, and Glens Falls, NY.