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Sleep apnea is a serious condition that affects millions of Americans. It occurs when breathing is blocked or partially blocked during sleep, causing your lungs to not receive enough oxygen. If left untreated, those who suffer from sleep apnea can experience significant health-related problems such as:
- Coronary artery disease
- High blood pressure
- High blood pressure in the lungs
- Restless sleep
- Heart failure
Dr. Scott Greenhalgh, DDS is board-certified in sleep medicine and has been trained to diagnose and treat sleep apnea with the latest techniques to ensure you’re getting the care you need to restore your healthy, restful night’s sleep. Working in coordination with your physician, Dr. Greenhalgh uses a straight-forward approach to create a comprehensive treatment plan just for you.
If you live in the Denver area, please call the office of Dr. Greenhalgh at (303) 988-9060 to schedule a consultation today.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, breathing is partially or fully blocked, causing the muscles in your diaphragm and chest to work harder to pull in the oxygen you need for a healthy, restorative sleep. Narrowed or blocked airways can occur from your tongue or throat muscles relaxing during sleep, as well as if you have large tonsils or adenoids, which press down on your airways as you lay down to sleep.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your lungs may not receive the air they need five to 50 times in an hour, which can cause irregular heart rhythms and considerably reduce the flow of oxygen to vital organs. You may also experience sleep apnea symptoms if you have a problem with your jawbone.
While excessive or disruptive snoring is the most common symptom, there are many other indicators that may signal you have sleep apnea. Talk with your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Persistent snoring
- Daytime exhaustion
- Repeatedly waking up and gasping during sleep
- Morning headaches
- Short-term memory problems
- Decreased sex drive
- Waking up with sore or a dry mouth
- Stop breathing during sleep
- Tossing and turning during sleep
- Weight gain
If you are exhibiting signs of sleep apnea, it’s advised to see your doctor for an official diagnosis, which may include visiting a certified sleep lab. Once diagnosis is confirmed, Dr. Greenhalgh creates a sleep apnea treatment plan in close coordination with your doctor to maximize results for your specific problem. For those with mild sleep apnea, lifestyle changes may significantly help reduce symptoms and help you get the restorative sleep you need for a healthy life.
For those who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and need further assistance beyond lifestyle changes, one option is continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. This method uses a breathing machine that assists in your breathing while you sleep by forcing air into your airway to keep it open. CPAPs decrease daytime sleepiness and lower daytime and nighttime blood pressure. While this method is considered one of the most effective treatments, many find the device and mask uncomfortable as they sleep.
If you find that CPAP is too uncomfortable and it’s determined that jaw position plays a role in your condition, the preferred treatment method of oral appliance therapy can help. Dr. Greenhalgh can custom-craft an oral appliance or mouth guard that will move your jaw to a position which promotes better air flow as you sleep. This FDA-approved method prevents the soft tissue from collapsing to help you breathe better throughout the night.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with sleep apnea in the Denver area or are concerned you may suffer from the condition, please call the office of Dr. Greenhalgh at (303) 988-9060 to schedule an appointment today.