Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes brief, repeated interruptions in breathing while you’re asleep. In Greek, the word “apnea” means “without breath.” Although snoring is a common annoyance of the disorder, there’s more to it than just a lot of noise. If a medical doctor has diagnosed you with sleep apnea, Dr. Siny Thomas in Sugar Land can provide treatment to help you breathe better, sleep better, and improve your health.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
If your airway is blocked while you’re asleep, it results in obstructive sleep apnea. How does it happen?
- Your tongue falls against the soft palate.
- The soft palate falls against the back of the throat.
- Your airway narrows or is completely blocked and leaves you without breath.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Signs and symptoms vary with the individual and in severity, but some common ones include:
- Loud snoring
- Interruptions in your breathing
- Extreme daytime sleepiness, including dozing off while working, driving, or engaged in other activities
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat in the morning
- Mood changes or irritability
- Frequent urination at night
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
If you think you have sleep apnea, Dr. Thomas will screen for it by completing an exam and asking you to complete a questionnaire. He will refer you to a specialist for diagnosis. The specialist will also examine you, talk with you about your sleep habits and disturbances, and schedule you for a sleep study. The study will record the following activity while you’re asleep:
- Brain waves
- Eye and leg movements
- Heart rhythm
- Oxygen levels
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
If a specialist diagnoses you with sleep apnea, you may receive a prescription for an oral appliance to wear while you sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine approves oral appliances as the first choice for treating mild to moderate sleep apnea. Dr. Siny Thomas provides custom appliances—the EMA® (Elastic Mandibular Advancement) and Herbst®. He will recommend one to help you get a comfortable night’s rest.
Dr. Thomas takes digital impressions of your teeth to make a custom appliance. Top and bottom trays, connected at the sides, will comfortably fit over your teeth. The oral appliance is designed to move your lower jaw forward and prevent your airway from getting blocked. It has several advantages:
- Easy to clean
What Happens If It’s Left Untreated?
Poor sleep quality increases the signs and symptoms of many chronic medical conditions. If left untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to accidents at home, work, or while driving. It also increases the risk of a variety of medical conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
When Will You Feel Relief?
You’ll breathe and sleep better on the first night that you wear your custom-made oral appliance. Dr. Thomas will schedule follow-up appointments to check the appliance and ensure the position of your jaw maximizes your breathing capacity while you sleep. Improvement in sleep quality can help you feel refreshed and improve medical conditions that sleep disorders contribute to or worsen.
If you think you have sleep apnea, or if you’ve already been diagnosed with it, Dr. Thomas can help. Call us to schedule an appointment or request an appointment online.