Sleep Apnea is not just snoring or feeling tired during the day – it is a serious medical condition. It not only affects your sleep but can impact on your general health and quality of life.
Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow breathing during sleep. Each pause can last for a few seconds to several minutes. It is a clinical disorder causing daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
If Sleep apnea is not treated, people are at increased risk of other health problems, such as diabetes and hypertension.
There are three forms of Sleep apnea however the most common form of Sleep Apnea is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This occurs when the walls or muscles of the upper airway (including the tongue, soft palate etc) relax in such a way that they collapse and block the airway during sleep.
Regardless of type, an individual with sleep apnea is rarely aware of having difficulty breathing, even upon awakening. Sleep apnea is recognized as a problem by others witnessing the individual during episodes or is suspected because of its effects on health or alertness. Symptoms may even be present for years (or decades) without recognition, during which time the person may become conditioned to the daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with sleep disturbance.
The diagnosis can be made through Polysomnography and your doctor.
Once diagnosed you have a choice of treatment such as surgery, a CPAP device or an oral appliance.
Oral appliances are one of the recognised treatments used to treat mild or moderate obstructive sleep apnea, as well as snoring. They are also called Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS) or Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD) or Mandibular Repositioning Appliances (MRA). They look a bit like a mouth guard.
They have the advantage of being totally portable, less obtrusive compared to a CPAP device, and of course they are non-surgical treatments.
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