San Francisco dentist warns that snoring may be a sign of a serious condition
Nearly everyone knows someone who snores, whether it is a bed partner, a relative, or a roommate. Many find snoring amusing, teasing the noisy sleeper or laughing about it. However, snoring can be a symptom of a serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition is not a laughing matter; it can have devastating effects on the sufferer’s life and health.
Snoring is the harsh sound produced when breathing is obstructed during sleep. When the muscles are relaxed and air flows past the soft palate and uvula, it can cause vibration, resulting in the noise. All snorers have an incomplete blockage of the upper airway. However, when the airway becomes totally obstructed and the sleeper stops breathing for 10 seconds or more, followed by choking, gasps, or snorts it may be indicative of obstructive sleep apnea. Additionally, if the sleeper habitually snores so loudly it disturbs others OSA is likely to be present.
Simple snoring, also called primary or ordinary snoring, is noisy breathing sounds during sleep without pauses in breathing. It differs from OSA in several ways; there isn’t excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue or abrupt waking during the night, and breathing patterns are normal during sleep. More than half of all adults snore occasionally, and primary snoring is relatively harmless except for annoying a bed partner. Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe their snoring is benign, when actually it is obstructive sleep apnea.
It is important that a sleep expert be consulted to determine whether the chronic snoring is primary or a symptom of a serious sleep disorder. A sleep test (polysomnography) can help diagnose OSA, this may be performed in a sleep clinic, or at home with a monitoring device. Untreated sleep apnea can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, arrhythmia, impotence, and hypertension, just to name a few.
Treatment for OSA ranges from simple lifestyle changes to surgery. The most common treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP). Although extremely effective, patient compliance is low due to inconvenience and discomfort. Many sufferers find comfortable, convenient relief is as near as their dentist’s office. Form fitting oral appliances have demonstrated a 75 percent success rate in treating OSA, and an 80 to 90 percent rate of success in treating simple snoring.
Dr. Leo Arellano and his skilled team have extensive experience in successfully treating the people of San Francisco with this innovative option. Call 415-881-4343 today to schedule an appointment.