Los Angeles, CA patients ask, “What is sleep apnea?”

man suffers from sleep apnea

Experts estimate that one in 15 people suffer from sleep apnea. This condition robs them of restful sleep necessary for cellular rejuvenation. It impacts their bedmates as well — sometimes the whole household! It can also have serious health implications. Many people ask me, “What is sleep apnea?” I enjoy helping patients in the Los Angeles, CA area gain a better understanding of sleep apnea and treatment options.

Understanding OSA

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is the most common type. As you begin to fall asleep, the tongue and soft tissues relax into the back of the throat, restricting or blocking the flow of air into lungs. Most people snore at this point, then stop breathing or have very shallow breaths. The brain senses that organs are being deprived of oxygen. In defense mode, it sends a surge of adrenalin to shock the body into action. You gasp, snort, jerk, or choke yourself awake, take a few normal breaths, and the cycle repeats – potentially dozens of times each hour. Continual interruption prevents a deep sleep state that re-charges you, emotionally and physically.

Causes of OSA

Factors that contribute to the likelihood or severity of OSA include:

  • Gender – men are more prone than women.
  • Age increases your chance of developing OSA.
  • Excess weight, especially neck circumference.
  • Use of alcohol, sedatives, or tobacco.
  • Chronic nasal congestion.
  • Family history of OSA.
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
  • Dental problems, such as a significant overbite.
  • Abnormal growth in the airway.
  • Down syndrome and other birth defects.

The good news is that effective treatment may be as close as a call to Downtown Dental. I have helped many patients cure, improve, or manage OSA with a simple oral appliance (something like a bite guard) worn at night. Call (213) 863-9464 to schedule a consultation.

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