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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep, and is potentially life-threatening.

The term sleep apnea is derived from the Greek etymology meaning “without breath”. Breathing interruptions can last anywhere from several seconds to several minutes, and can possibly happen as often as 30 times or more per hour. The ongoing breathing disruption causes an imbalance between the carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the bloodstream, as not enough carbon dioxide is exiting and not enough oxygen is entering the body.

When the brain senses this imbalance, it sends a message to the body telling it to wake up to restart breathing the process, and that will cause you to partially awake as you struggle to breathe, and this is often accompanied by loud snoring or choking sensations. Because people with sleep apnea don’t always completely awake during these episodes, they are often unaware they have a sleeping disorder and it can remain undiagnosed.

There are two main types of this disorder;  obstructive sleep apnea which occurs when air cannot flow through the nose or mouth even though the body is still trying to breathe, and central sleep apnea which occurs when the brain fails to send important signals to the breathing muscles. Obstructive sleep apnea is far more prevalent and easily treatable by Dr. Kinsey.

Common signs of obstructive sleep apnea can include severe early morning headaches, sleepiness in the daytime, and insomnia. Fortunately, Dr. Kinsey has a lot of experience and can treat sleep apnea in several different ways.

Reasons for treating sleep apnea

It is extremely important to seek medical attention if sleep apnea is suspected. Normal breathing can completely stop numerous times per hour, which can quickly turn into a deadly situation. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue lying at the back of the patient’s throat collapses into the airway. The tongue then falls towards the back of the throat which tightens the blockage and prevents oxygen from entering the lungs.

Then the problem worsens when the chest region, diaphragm, and abdomen fight for air. The efforts they make to obtain vital oxygen only cause a further tightening of the blockage. The sleep apnea sufferer must then arouse from their deep sleep to tense the tongue and remove the soft tissue from the airway.

Sleep apnea causes carbon dioxide levels to increase in the blood and oxygen levels to decrease.  Then the heart has to pump harder and faster to compensate for the lack of oxygen. Sleep apnea sufferers can technically “die” many times each night. Sleep apnea has been linked to a series of serious heart-related conditions, and should be investigated by Dr. Kinsey at the earliest opportunity.

What does sleep apnea treatment involve?

Initially, Dr. Kinsey will want to conduct tests in order to investigate, diagnose, and pinpoint the best treatment for the patient. Dr. Kinsey can offer many different treatment options which depend largely on the exact diagnosis and the health of the patient. Dr. Kinsey may advise the patient to halt some habits that aggravate sleep apnea such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and tranquilizer use.

In the past, sleeping masks were used to keep the patient’s airways open while they slept, but now there are some less intrusive options. Dental devices that gently tease the lower jaw forward are very effective in preventing the tongue from blocking the main air passage.  These devices are gentle, easy to wear, and often help patients avoid unwanted surgeries.

A more permanent solution is to have surgery that sections the lower jaw and helps pull the bone holding the tongue forward slightly. This surgery has an impressive success rate and is simple for the dentist or oral surgeon to perform. Dr. Kinsey needs to formally make a diagnosis of each individual case before recommending the best course of action.

Please call us today at 904-826-4343 and we can answer your questions about sleep apnea.

If you are looking for a dentist in St. Augustine you have found us!  We are located in Palencia, just minutes from World Golf Village, Nocatee, and Jacksonville.

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