Sleep Apnea Doctor Questions and Answers
Have you been diagnosed with sleep apnea but are not comfortable with your treatment? Do you suspect that you may have sleep apnea but are not sure what to do about it? Stop putting off feeling better. Solutions are a phone call away! Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders would like to help you prepare for your visit with a sleep apnea doctor in Peoria, IL. We Serve Patients From West Peoria IL, Bartonville IL, Pottstown IL, Morton IL, Pekin IL. Chillicothe IL, Princeville IL, Metamora IL, East Peoria IL, Dunlap IL, Galesburg IL and Canton IL.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and prescribed a CPAP that works for you, that is awesome! Keep using it! But if you have a CPAP that you are unable to use all night, every night, you are going untreated and still at risk for illness and injury associated with sleep deprivation.
Perhaps you’ve not been diagnosed yet, but your snoring, daytime tiredness and lack of energy have you wondering if there is something more you should be doing to feel better? If you do nothing, will it keep getting worse?
Or maybe you have a sleep partner who has told you that you stop breathing in your sleep? Sometimes you wake up with your heart racing or you simply wake up repeatedly throughout the night. That must be scary and disruptive for you both!
You definitely should see a sleep apnea doctor like one of ours here at Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders. We’d like to give you an idea of what to expect when you visit us, so here’s a bit of a Q & A about seeing a sleep apnea doctor!
What do you call a doctor who is qualified to treat sleep apnea?
There are different kinds of doctors who can treat sleep apnea: primary care doctors, neurologists, pulmonologists and dentists, to name a few. But if you want a doctor that focuses on sleep medicine and sleep apnea, you’ll want a sleep doctor. We have sleep doctors who are dentists and whose primary focus is the treatment of sleep apnea and TMJ disorders here at our clinic. We work hand in hand with doctors on your healthcare team to ensure you find a solution that fully treats your sleep apnea. Our dentists practice a kind of sleep medicine called dental sleep medicine and they have many happy patients who have found solutions that they can use all night, every night.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
There are many signs and symptoms of sleep apnea that can be noticed both when awake as well as when sleeping. When a person with sleep apnea tries to sleep, they may exhibit loud, disruptive snoring, but not always. There may be no snoring at all. They may experience slowed, shallow breathing where they cannot exchange a full breath of oxygen for carbon dioxide. These are called hypopneas. When the sleeper’s airway becomes completely obstructed, breathing stops. This can last for seconds or minutes. When an episode of no breathing lasts for ten seconds or longer, these are called apneas. Some patients have more than one hundred apneas per hour. Per hour! No breathing means no oxygen. And that is no way to live!
The sleeper might not even realize it’s happening unless a sleep partner points it out. However, they will likely notice these signs yourself:
- Recurring awakenings
- Restless sleeping, tossing, turning
- Waking up at night feeling like you’re choking or gasping
- Waking to your heart thumping or racing
- Waking use the bathroom at night
- Waking up in the morning feeling exhausted and not fully rested
- Waking with a morning headache
- Loud snoring that disrupts others
- Waking with a sore or scratchy throat
- Swollen tongue and uvula
- Teeth grinding at night, sore teeth and jaw upon waking
- Daytime tiredness
- Lack of energy
- Irritable, short tempered, lacing in patience
- Lack of ability to concentrate
- Reaching for food or caffeine to keep you going
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight
- Craving sugar and carbohydrates
- Never feeling full after eating
- Unexplained high blood pressure
- Heart Disease
- Nose or mouth breathing problems
- Short term memory problems
- Changes in mood, depression, anxiety
- Temperamental behavior, ADHD
- A lowered sex drive
- Acid reflux
If you have any of these issues, you should discuss them with a professional. If you have sleep apnea and it’s left untreated, it could lead to health complications that are chronic and in severe cases, even fatal.
What should I do if I have sleep apnea or suspect that I do?
You should seek professional care from a sleep doctor who will work with you to find solutions you can live with. It starts with a review of your sleep and health history. If you have markers of sleep apnea as determined by your consultation, a sleep study will be ordered. To confirm a diagnosis of sleep apnea, a sleep study is done either in a sleep lab, or may be done in the comfort of your own bed at home. If you are diagnosed, most all medical carriers and Medicare provide coverage for treatment of sleep apnea. A sleep physician will go over the results of your sleep study and recommend the best course of treatment for you.
What is the best treatment for sleep apnea?
There are several ways to treat sleep apnea. While losing weight and avoiding sleeping on your back at night can help, patients with sleep apnea will need either CPAP therapy or Oral Appliance therapy. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and works by blowing air into the back of the nose and throat to force the tissues to stay open. While it’s true that CPAP therapy can be effective for many patients, some patients cannot tolerate the mask, forced air pressure, noise and inability to get comfortable while tethered to the machine by the hose that connects the mask to the machine.
Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) uses a custom-fit oral sleep appliance, also referred to as a MAD (Mandibular Advancement Devise) or a MRD (Mandibular Repositioning Devise). These work differently than CPAP. Similar to an orthodontic or sports mouth guard, OAs fit inside the mouth and cover the upper and lower teeth. An adjustable mechanism is set to prevent the lower jaw from falling back toward the narrow opening at the throat. By keeping the lower jaw in a slightly down and forward position, the tongue and soft tissues do not crowd the throat where obstructions occur. This makes airflow more productive with less or no snoring, and most importantly less or no apneas.
Oral appliances are easy to use and easy to take with you when you travel. They do not require electricity or special inspection at the airport. Patients treated with oral appliances have reported that they are easy to get used to and they look forward to wearing them every night. Whatever method of therapy you choose, you need to be able to use it all night, every night. Oral appliance therapy is approved by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and recommended by our sleep apnea doctors here at Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders. Schedule an appointment with us today to see if Oral Appliance Therapy is right for you!
Do you have a sleep apnea doctor in my area?
There’s a good chance we do! Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders has multiple locations with sleep apnea doctors in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin. Please see our Locations page for each locations’ address and contact information. Contact us at the location in your area or call our corporate office at (855) 977-0400 if you’d like more information or to book a consultation with one of our sleep apnea doctors. We’d be honored to help you treat your sleep apnea effectively here at Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders.
We look forward to seeing you soon!