Snoring isn’t just an irritation to your partner and household. It can also be an indicator of a dangerous disorder known as sleep apnoea.
At TMJ Centre Melbourne, we provide guidance and effective treatment for sleep apnoea, so you (and your family!) can snooze in peace. Sleep apnoea occurs when breathing is insufficient or even stops during sleep, which is a dangerous situation for the sufferer!
Sleep apnoea can cause fatigue and a lack of focus due to exhaustion, however even more frightening is the increased risk of stroke, heart disease, hypertension, and other potentially fatal conditions that are exacerbated by sleep apnoea.
What Causes Sleep Apnoea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat temporarily relax. Because these muscles support soft tissue, such as the soft palate, the uvula, the tonsils, and the walls of the throat, their relaxation causes this soft tissue to collapse, shutting off the airway and causing a lack of oxygen. This can result in loud snoring, choking, or gasping in your sleep.
Sleep apnoea can affect people of any age, but some definite risk factors can increase your susceptibility. Obesity, smoking, and the use of alcohol, sedatives, or tranquilisers can heighten the risk of developing sleep apnoea. Additionally, it is found to be more prevalent in older adults, particularly older males. Indeed, men are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnoea than women. There are other genetic factors at play too—you may be more at risk if an immediate family member suffers from OSA.
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnoea?
The most noticeable symptom of OSA is loud snoring. While this may not be easy to pick up on if you live alone, if you share your bed with a partner, they will no doubt can tell you that it’s a problem. Linked to this is a profound lack of restful sleep. Because your brain can sense when there is an obstruction causing a lack of airflow, it will briefly jolt you awake for you to breathe. This can happen as often as 50 times per hour in extreme cases.
These ‘micro-arousals’ are so incredibly short-lived that you may not even be aware of them – other than feeling deeply tired and sleep-deprived the following day. This lack of restful sleep has a host of other effects – irritability, a lack of focus or concentration, memory loss, and even clumsiness can all result from undiagnosed sleep apnoea. Other physical manifestations of your sleep apnoea could include night sweats, morning headaches, or waking up with a dry mouth and sore throat.
Is Sleep Apnoea Dangerous?
While cutting off your oxygen supply is dangerous, it’s not the only concern caused by OSA. There are a whole host of other serious conditions that can be exacerbated or caused by sleep apnoea. The sudden drop in blood oxygen levels that occurs because of OSA increases blood pressure and strains the cardiovascular system. This can result not only in hypertension (high blood pressure) but also in cardiac damage. Heart attacks or strokes can occur, while multiple reoccurring incidents of low blood oxygen can even cause sudden death in patients with pre-existing heart disease.
How Can We Help?
Our two-pronged approach to sleep apnoea aims to treat OSA through medical appliances and chiropractic intervention. Our treatment at the TMJ Centre involves improving the position of your neck, jaw, and head to reduce pressure on your airways, in addition to the design and manufacture of a mandibular advancement split (MAS). The MAS is a revolutionary way of treating OAS and is a great alternative to clunky, invasive, and uncomfortable CPAP machines.
The MAS, also known as a “bite plate”, is worn when asleep and gently holds your lower jaw in a position to prevent the collapse of your airways. While a CPAP machine involves wearing an uncomfortable mask and having your movement restricted during the night, the MAS is simply popped into your mouth – there are no moving parts, no restricting masks, and no noise to disturb you or your partner.
For individuals with mild to moderate OSA, an MSA has been shown to be as effective as a CPAP machine. When facing severe OSA, the MSA has equal benefits to the CPAP machine because treatment compliance is so much easier when using a small, comfortable, non-intrusive device.
To find out more about how we treat sleep apnoea, please have a look here.
To talk to us about treating your sleep apnoea, or to find out more about any of our treatments, please contact us on (03) 9417 4038, or use our online contact form.