Sleep Apnea Treatment in Calgary

Sleep Apnea, means “with‑out breath” in Greek. It is when breathing stops for 10 seconds or more while sleeping. Sleep apnea can have significant health implications and should not just be ignored.
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How does sleep apnea affect my body?

These breathing pauses, called apneas, can last for a few seconds to minutes and may occur multiple times throughout the night. Sleep apnea can have various effects on the human body, both in the short term and over time if left untreated.

Here are some of the common effects:

  1. Fragmented sleep: Apneas disrupt the normal sleep cycle, causing frequent awakenings and fragmented sleep patterns. As a result, individuals with sleep apnea often experience daytime sleepiness and reduced overall sleep quality.
  2. Decreased oxygen levels: During apneas, oxygen levels in the body decrease because breathing is temporarily stopped or reduced. This can lead to intermittent hypoxia (low oxygen levels) and subsequent oxygen deprivation in various organs and tissues.
  3. Cardiovascular problems: Sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular issues. The repeated drops in oxygen levels and the resulting stress on the cardiovascular system can lead to high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, and an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.
  4. Daytime sleepiness and fatigue: Frequent awakenings disrupt the normal sleep pattern, preventing individuals from getting restful sleep. This results in excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and decreased cognitive performance. It can also increase the risk of accidents, especially while driving or operating machinery.
  5. Metabolic and endocrine disturbances: Sleep apnea has been linked to metabolic and hormonal imbalances. It can contribute to insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Sleep apnea may also affect the production and regulation of various hormones, including those involved in appetite regulation, which can lead to weight gain and obesity.
  6. Mood disorders: Chronic sleep disruption caused by sleep apnea can contribute to the development or exacerbation of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Irritability, mood swings, and decreased overall well-being are commonly reported symptoms.
  7. Increased risk of accidents and complications: Due to the daytime sleepiness and cognitive impairments associated with sleep apnea, individuals may be at a higher risk of accidents, both at work and in daily activities. It can also complicate other health conditions, such as respiratory disorders, and increase the risk of complications during surgery or anesthesia.

It is important to note that the severity of sleep apnea and the presence of other underlying health conditions can influence the extent of these effects. Treatment options for sleep apnea, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, oral appliances, lifestyle changes, and in some cases, surgery, can help alleviate the symptoms and reduce the associated risks to the body.

If you suspect you or someone you know may have sleep apnea, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate management.

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Signs of Sleep Apnea

  • Snoring that may disrupt the sleep of others.
  • Gasping, coughing or choking upon wakening
  • Waking with your heart racing
  • Waking up tired after a full night’s sleep
  • Waking up with a headache
  • Feeling very sleepy during the day
  • Falling asleep without intending to
  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • Feeling irritable, short-tempered
  • Weight gain, inability to lose weight
  • Acid Reflux in adults
  • AD/HD an/or bed wetting  in children

Left untreated, sleep apnea increases the likelihood of illness or injury. It has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even death.

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Sleep apneas can sometimes occur hundreds of times in one night and last anywhere from 10 seconds to 1 minute to occasionally even longer

What occurs during an apnea?

The body’s oxygen level drops which in turn causes blood pressure to rise. The heart is forced to beat faster, which increases the pulse rate. The brain may cause the arms, legs or whole body to jerk in an attempt to wake the sleeper to resume breathing. The silence may end with a loud snort, cough or gasp. This causes the sleeper to wake briefly and begin breathing. Once asleep again, the muscles relax etc. and the process repeats itself.

Serious and life-threatening problems start when sleepers begin experiencing apneas (where breathing stops) and hypopneas (where breathing is shallow due to an obstruction). Breathing is usually blocked in the back of the throat when the tongue and muscles relax during sleep, the lower jaw falls back toward the throat, and the airway becomes blocked.

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Mandibular Repositioning Device (MRD)

A Mandibular Repositioning Device (MRD) is an oral appliance commonly used in the treatment of sleep apnea and snoring. It is a removable device that is worn in the mouth during sleep. MRDs are also known as mandibular advancement devices (MADs) or oral sleep appliances.

The main purpose of an MRD is to reposition the lower jaw (mandible) slightly forward, which helps open up the airway and prevent the collapse or narrowing of the upper airway during sleep. By advancing the lower jaw, MRDs help maintain a more stable and open airway, allowing for improved airflow and reducing the occurrence of apneas or hypopneas (partial blockages).

Here’s how an MRD typically works:

  1. Custom fitting: An MRD is custom-made by a dental professional or orthodontist. They will take impressions of your teeth and create a personalized device that fits your mouth comfortably and securely.
  2. Jaw repositioning: The MRD consists of two trays or splints, one for the upper teeth and one for the lower teeth, which are connected by hinges or other mechanisms. The lower tray is adjustable and can be gradually moved forward to a predetermined position.
  3. Advancement of the lower jaw: By adjusting the lower tray forward, the MRD gently pushes the lower jaw and associated tissues forward. This forward movement helps to enlarge the space at the back of the throat, reducing the likelihood of airway obstruction or collapse during sleep.

Benefits of using an MRD:

  1. Treatment for sleep apnea and snoring: MRDs are an effective alternative treatment for individuals with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who may have difficulty tolerating continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. They can also be used to alleviate snoring caused by anatomical factors or mild sleep apnea.
  2. Non-invasive and comfortable: Compared to CPAP therapy, which requires wearing a mask and using a machine to deliver pressurized air, MRDs are non-invasive and easy to wear. Many people find them more comfortable and less restrictive, leading to better compliance with treatment.
  3. Portable and travel-friendly: MRDs are compact and portable, making them convenient for travel. They can be easily carried and used wherever you go, providing consistent treatment and allowing for a more normal sleep routine.
  4. Improved sleep quality and daytime symptoms: By keeping the airway open, MRDs help improve sleep quality, reduce nighttime awakenings, and alleviate symptoms such as snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, and fatigue. As a result, individuals often experience improved overall well-being and daytime performance.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of an MRD depends on the individual’s specific condition and the severity of sleep apnea. A thorough evaluation by a sleep specialist or dentist experienced in sleep disorders is crucial to determine the most appropriate treatment approach. Regular follow-up visits are also necessary to monitor the effectiveness of the device and make any necessary adjustments.

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