Sleep Apnea

Natick, Dover, Newton, Sherborn, Framingham and Wellesley, MA

Many people think snoring is just a nuisance for them and their spouse, but it may be a sign of sleep apnea, one of the deadliest and most under-diagnosed conditions in the US. Sleep apnea increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, mental illness, cancer, and many other serious health conditions. It is treatable, which virtually eliminates your increased risks, but it is estimated that 80% of sufferers are undiagnosed.

This page contains background information about sleep apnea, but the only way to know for sure if you are a sufferer is with a sleep test. To talk to Dr. Svetlana Novak about sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment in Natick, Newton, and surrounding areas of Massachusetts, please call 508-433-1704 or email South Natick Dental for an appointment.

What Is Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is literally a lack of breath. People with sleep apnea experience many instances of interrupted breathing during the night. In order to resume breathing, your brain must partially awaken. It awakens just enough to resume breathing. In the most common form of sleep apnea, this is due to your airway collapsing as you sleep--your own throat is literally choking you.

You may not be aware of waking, even though it can happen hundreds of times a night, but these periods of mini-wakefulness are enough to prevent your brain from ever achieving the restful and rejuvenating REM sleep you need. In addition, when your brain senses the lack of oxygen, it signals your heart to work harder, pumping more blood, which increases blood pressure, heart strain, and stroke risk.

The majority of sleep apnea sufferers are older, overweight men, but anyone can suffer. Sleep apnea in children poses a special risk and should be considered whenever children exhibit behavior problems, attention disorders, or mood disorders.

Dangers of Sleep Apnea

We continue to learn about the serious health conditions associated with sleep apnea. Studies have shown that sleep apnea sufferers may have a 50% higher premature death rate, often due to associated conditions, including:

  • Hypertension
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Car accidents associated with lack of attention or daytime sleepiness

We are not sure how great these risks are, but one study showed that sleep apnea sufferers had higher cancer death rates than smokers. Another study suggested that sleep apnea may be the primary risk factor for coronary artery disease.

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis and Treatment

Unfortunately, the symptoms of sleep apnea are often not very specific, and include snoring, daytime sleepiness, and lack of energy or focus. This contributes to underdiagnosis of the condition.

Properly diagnosing sleep apnea requires a sleep test, where your breathing, oxygen saturation, and other factors are monitored to detect lapses in breath. These tests can be done in special sleep centers or sometimes in your own home.

Once diagnosed, there are many treatment options. Traditional sleep apnea treatment focused on continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines that pump air into sufferers to ensure access to oxygen. However, many people with mild to moderate sleep apnea also see good results with convenient and comfortable oral appliances. Similar to an athletic mouthguard, these appliances are worn at night and help keep a person's airway open.

The first step in successful treatment is proper diagnosis. Please contact South Natick Dental today for an appointment.  Serving Dover, Newton, Sherborn, Framingham and Wellesley, MA.