Most of us snore occasionally – when we have a cold or allergies, or fall asleep in an awkward position. However, chronic snoring can be a warning sign of a serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Dr. Carlos Garcia offers oral appliances that are helping patients from La Crescenta-Montrose to Glendale get restful sleep.
Dangers of obstructive sleep apnea
An OSA episode goes something like this. As you relax into sleep, the tongue and soft tissues collapse into the back of the throat, blocking the airway. You take a few normal breaths, snore loudly for a moment, then stop breathing (or breathe very shallow) for up to several minutes. The brain senses danger as the heart and lungs are deprived of oxygen, and sends adrenalin to shock the body into action. You snort, choke, or gasp into wakefulness. This cycle can repeat dozens of times per hour.
Those with OSA have elevated risk of:
- Workplace and vehicle accidents.
- Daytime drowsiness affecting work or school performance.
- Difficulty with concentration and clear thinking.
- High blood pressure.
A simple solution
CPAP is the standard answer to OSA. This apparatus holds the airway open with a continuous flow of air, administered through a facemask. CPAP is effective . . . when it is used. Unfortunately, compliance is low. Many people simply cannot sleep wearing headgear and tethered to a noisy machine.
Once OSA has been diagnosed and intolerance to CPAP is confirmed, Dr. Garcia suggests oral appliance therapy. The custom-fit device gently repositions the lower jaw slightly forward. Research shows that 90 percent of patients experience improvement in snoring and decrease in the number of nightly OSA episodes.