Getting a good night’s sleep is a wonderful thing, but when your partner’s loud snoring disrupts that blissful time of complete relaxation, you can get concerned and irritated. Not only are you not resting, but your partner’s snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, a common and potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts as one sleeps. Although sleep apnea is treatable, it often goes undiagnosed. It’s estimated that 1 in 15 people in the United States is dealing with some form of sleep apnea. Learning how to identify the warning signs and how to distinguish it from normal snoring is where Drs. Kingery & Kingery can help you get back to peaceful sleeping!
What’s Sleep Apnea and Why Should I Be Concerned?
“There are two types of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which is the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax, and Central Sleep Apnea, that occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. These pauses in breathing typically last 10–20 seconds and can occur up to hundreds of times a night, jolting you out of a natural sleep rhythm. As a result, you spend more time in light sleep and less in the deep, restorative sleep that you need to be energetic, mentally alert and productive the next day,” said Dr. Mary Kingery, a certified sleep dentist. Left untreated, this type of chronic sleep deprivation results in daytime sleepiness, fatigue, insomnia, poor concentration and slower reflexes. Sleep apnea has also been linked to serious health problems over time, like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, increased chance of stroke, significant weight gain and depression/irritability. But once diagnosed, with treatment, you can control the symptoms and get your sleep back on track.
“We do routine screenings of our patients, asking them if they snore, are tired, have trouble sleeping, or if their sleep partner has noticed any changes, etc. If there is evidence that sleep apnea may be a concern, we refer them to a specialist for an evaluation. At the specialist’s, they would first review a patient’s family history and symptoms, perhaps suggesting a home sleep study to evaluate. Then, depending upon the results, a PSG (polysomnogram) might be performed to study the brain activity, eye movements, heart rate and blood pressure. A PSG also records the amount of oxygen in the blood, air movement through the nose while breathing, snoring and chest movements, showing whether an effort is being made to breathe. The ‘Gold Standard’ for sleep apnea treatment is CPAP therapy, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, a machine that delivers air pressure to keep the airway open. However if a patient cannot tolerate CPAP and/or is not compliant in using it, that is where we come in, providing an alternative that is FDA approved to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea. If a patient is referred to us who is CPAP intolerant, we set up an appointment for a complete evaluation and the results are sent to the patient’s medical doctor for review, to see if the appliance that we would fabricate would be an alternative to CPAP therapy, if the patient meets the criteria,” Dr. Mary Kingery commented. “We also have evaluated patients that are already diagnosed and have heard from others that we have treated them with great results. We work very closely with many medical doctors and specialists in the area. There are also some lifestyle changes that can help with sleep apnea. Sometimes it is but changes in diet and exercise that can alleviate some of the symptoms or relieve them entirely. But once diagnosed, monitoring is important to be sure that the condition is managed,” stated Dr. Mary Kingery.
Celeste Lyon, Practice Manager for Kingery & Kingery, has her own story about how sleep apnea affected her life. “My husband kept telling me that I was snoring and not breathing for seconds at a time. I would wake up coughing during the night; go back to sleep, but wake up tired. I had gained weight, was depressed, and had migraines; all I wanted to do was to go to sleep when I got home. He recorded me, but that didn’t get my attention until I had a surgical procedure and the anesthetist said that she couldn’t keep me stable while under anesthesia, a sign of sleep apnea. I had a sleep study and found out that I stopped breathing an average of 58 times per hour, no wonder I was tired. Now I feel better and have more energy and am working on losing the weight!” said Celeste.
Kingery & Kingery is located at 2554 Lewisville-Clemmons Rd., Clemmons, NC. For more information on sleep apnea, visit www.kingerysmiles.com or call 336-766-0511.