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About Sleep Apnea

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What is Sleep Disordered Breathing?

Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is the struggle to breath properly while asleep. 5% of children struggle to sleep properly, as do 25% of adults. And the numbers are rising.

SDB has a lot of different names, like snoring or sleep apnea. It includes technical conditions like Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome. And simple descriptions like “mouth breathing.”

What’s at the heart of SDB conditions are two problems. Problems which feel exactly as they sound:

  1. Interrupted Sleep: is being repeatedly being woken so that a good and deep night’s rest never happens.
  2. Inadequate Oxygen: apnea means insufficient air gets into the lungs, and tissues. Tissues starved for oxygen become damaged and cause chronic inflammation.

How does Sleep Apnea Affect Health?

How does Sleep Apnea Affect Health?

Beyond the inconvenience of feeling tired and sleepy, interrupted sleep and inadequate oxygen from sleep apnea fuels other serious health problems including:

  • Delayed or inhibited growth
  • Delayed or inhibited healing
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Depression
  • Memory and learning delays
  • Reduced work / school performance
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Altered facial growth
  • More airway obstructions
  • Death

Sleep disordered breathing is a serious disease that cannot be ignored. If you, or someone you love, snores and has one other item listed above, they should be seen for a sleep assessment.

Who’s at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

There are three categories of risks which place a child at greater risk for developing sleep disordered breathing. Most of the risks Some risk factors include:

  1. Craniofacial Imbalance: imbalanced jaws, narrow palate, jaw size deficiency, septum deviation, abnormal sinuses, dental crowding
  2. Chronic Inflammation: asthma, allergies, swollen tonsils or adenoids, acid reflux, obesity
  3. Lifestyle: diet, inactivity, evening screen-time, indoor pets, second-hand smoke
  4. For adults Craniofacial Imbalance, Chronic Inflammation, and Lifestyle are also risks for sleep apnea. But adults have even more risk factors, such as:
  5. Gender: men are more likely to have sleep apnea
  6. Age: beginning at middle age, the older we become the more likely we are to have sleep apnea

What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea?

No two people are exactly alike, and every patient is affected uniquely. That’s why multi-disciplinary teams of health providers so often work together to care for a patient with sleep disordered breathing.

But there are some common symptoms that can be fairly easily observed. Things like:
• Snoring
• Gasping for breath while sleeping
• Daytime sleepiness
• Attention deficit disorders
• Depression
• Grinding / excessive tooth wear
• Kids wetting the bed
• Adults falling asleep behind their desk or at stop lights
• Inability to breath through the nose
• Orthodontic problems (i.e. crowding, jaw alignment)

Some problems may occur without SDB like ADHD, bed wetting, or dental crowding.
But if any one problem becomes too severe, or a number of symptoms occur at the same time, ask your dentist and physician about sleep and breathing problems.

Sleep Apnea Self-Assessment

If you suspect sleep disordered breathing is a problem for yourself or someone you love, consider the following screening assessments and seek professional advice.

Assessment For Kids

Assessment For Adults