There’s a serious health issue affecting thousands of people in the United States each year.

Most people don’t even know they have it, although the signs are frequently evident in their daily lives.

This health issue is severe and can contribute to the development of chronic and potentially deadly illnesses.

What is the condition?

It’s the sleep breathing disorder sleep apnea, and, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association, sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea have become a cause for concern in the United States.

The organization estimates that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, with 80 percent of these individuals experiencing moderate to severe cases.

Up to 90 percent of those affected by sleep apnea are undiagnosed, increasing their risk of developing serious health issues.

Who Is Affected by Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can affect individuals of any age, including children, but the most commonly affected are men over age 40, particularly those who are overweight or obese.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. In most instances, this is caused by your muscles relaxing, including the muscles that control the tongue and throat. When these muscles relax, the tongue can fall back to block the airway, and the throat muscles can collapse, cutting off the flow of air.

These interruptions in breathing can happen anywhere from a dozen times a night for very mild cases to more than a hundred episodes per night for those with severe cases.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

You might not even be aware that you are living with sleep apnea because the most prominent symptom, snoring, happens when you’re asleep. However, you may hear complaints from your sleep partner that your snoring is keeping them up at night. While the most common symptom of sleep apnea is snoring, there are other signs of the condition that you may not realize are related to sleep apnea.

These signs include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Never feeling rested
  • Chronic, loud snoring
  • Observed episodes of stopped breathing during sleep, as reported by your sleep partner
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking
  • Frequently waking with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache, particularly around the temples
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Mood changes, such as depression or irritability
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Nighttime sweating
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Waking up during sleep
  • Decreased libido

The Problem with Sleep Apnea

When breathing is interrupted, the body panics and goes into fight or flight mode as it works to maintain your tissues and cells. The stress on the body caused by repeated breathing interruptions can trigger inflammation and damage your organs and tissues.

Other complications caused by sleep apnea include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic heart failure
  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
  • Stroke
  • Cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease and heart attack
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Liver problems
  • Obesity
  • Eye problems
  • Daytime fatigue, making driving or operating heavy machinery very dangerous

Treatments for Sleep Apnea

The most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea is the continuous positive airway pressure machine, commonly known as the CPAP.

This device works by blowing a steady stream of air through a mask worn over the nose or nose and mouth into the upper airway to keep the airway from collapsing during sleep. While the CPAP machine is a conventional treatment for sleep apnea, many people suffering from the sleep breathing disorder find the device uncomfortable, loud and claustrophobic.

As a result, many sleep apnea sufferers skip wearing the CPAP machine and leave their sleep apnea untreated, putting them right back to a high risk of chronic and severe illnesses. Some studies have shown that up to half of the individuals prescribed a CPAP machine do not wear it.

The Bend Headache Center offers an alternative option to the CPAP machine for treating obstructive sleep apnea. This device is a specialized oral appliance designed to help you get a restful night’s sleep and improve overall health.

Not all sleep apnea devices are made equal, and most oral appliances given to patients for sleep apnea actually increase the issues that cause airway obstruction in the first place.

The Bend Headache Center will resolve airway obstruction without oversized and obstructive oral devices by focusing on your whole airway system, getting you the restful night your body needs.

If you are currently being treated for sleep apnea and not noticing the results you want, or if you want to avoid a CPAP machine, the Bend Headache Center can help. We recognize that CPAP machines are not always the answer and may not be right for you.

If you live with mild to moderate sleep apnea and need treatment, call us today to schedule a consultation and learn about our specialized appliance.