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Janet had struggled with snoring, daytime fatigue, and difficulty sleeping for years. “At night my husband couldn’t sleep because of my loud snoring,” she says. I often would wake up in the middle of the night gasping for breath with my heart racing and then I couldn’t go back to sleep. It really scared me.”
During the day Janet was so tired she couldn’t function. “I felt unmotivated, and had a lot of incomplete projects because I just never had enough energy to complete them,” she says.
Janet knew she had to do something about her sleeping problem. She had a sleep test done, and the test results revealed she had Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
There are over 18 million persons in the United States alone who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and sadly, it is estimated that over 90% go undiagnosed. People come to accept that this is normal for them: Never feeling rested, not being able to sleep through the night without waking several times, requiring a daily nap because they feel so tired that they just can’t get through the day without one. Fatigue also causes irritability, lack of concentration and an inability to do the things that they would like to do. If you ask them, they’ll say they are fine. They just don’t know that they can feel any differently. Untreated sleep apnea can also increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, headaches, weight gain, stroke, and drowsy driving.
After reviewing her test results, Janet’s physician prescribed a CPAP machine to treat her sleep apnea.
“I had a hard time wearing the CPAP, and every time I moved the CPAP would make a loud noise and wake my husband up,” says Janet.
After seeing a commercial about a mouth device for sleep apnea, Janet decided to make an appointment. “It looked much more comfortable than the CPAP so I thought I would see if it would work for me,” she says.
“I noticed a difference the first night I slept with the oral appliance. It was so much more comfortable sleeping with the oral appliance. The next day I woke up feeling great!” she continues. “My husband is so happy I have the oral appliance because now both of us are getting a restful night’s sleep,” she says.
Oral Appliance Therapy has proven to be a very viable and scientifically based treatment option for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued a statement in the 2006 journal SLEEP that Oral Appliance Therapy was approved as the first line of treatment for those suffering from mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea and is proving to be effective for severe cases as well. The purpose of the oral appliance is to hold the jaw in a position that allows the airway to remain as open and firm as possible during sleep. Oral appliances are similar to athletic mouth guards, but less bulky and completely non-invasive. Oral appliances are covered by most medical insurances and Medicare.
“I love having the convenience when traveling,” says Janet. “I’m from Kenya, and the village where my family lives doesn’t have electricity. Now I can take my oral appliance with me and I don’t have to worry about a power outlet for a CPAP machine. It’s great!” she continues.