Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition in which your breathing stops many times overnight, waking you up slightly. As much as 80% of people with this condition don’t know it, because the waking events happen briefly while you sleep. You can feel the effects of it in the morning, though. You may wake up with a headache, and may feel completely unrested. You will likely feel sleepy throughout the day, may have low energy or interest levels. You may have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, depression, hypothyroidism, or low testosterone levels. Left untreated, sleep apnea can more than double your risk of death from all causes.
Dr. Nelson Clements offers a comfortable alternative to traditional sleep apnea treatment. CPAP is effective, but many people find it hard to use, while oral appliances are much more convenient and are just as effective. To learn more about sleep apnea treatment options in Valdosta, GA, please call (229) 242-5511 or email for an appointment with Dr. Clements.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Most people with sleep apnea don’t know they have it because their breathing stops while they’re sleeping. But there are many symptoms you might notice, such as:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Waking up to urinate
  • Bedwetting (especially postmenopausal women)
  • Waking up unrested
  • Morning headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of energy
  • Low interest or sex drive
  • Moodiness or low mood
  • Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Inability to focus
  • Memory problems

In addition, other people around you may notice signs while you sleep, such as:

  • Snoring
  • Choking
  • Stops in breathing
  • Restless sleeping

Your doctor may have diagnosed you with the following conditions that are either related to sleep apnea or are confused with it, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Low testosterone
  • Hypothyroidism

And over time your risk of complications requiring hospitalization such as heart attack or stroke will increase. If you have several of the above symptoms, signs, or medical conditions, you should talk to your doctor about sleep apnea.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

If you suspect sleep apnea, it’s important to talk to a sleep doctor or sleep dentist about your risks. There are many potential screening tools that can be used to determine whether you are likely to have sleep apnea. One of the simplest is the STOP-BANG questionnaire, consisting of just 8 items:

  • Do you Snore loudly?
  • Do you often feel Tired or sleepy during the day?
  • Has anyone Observed you stop breathing during your sleep
  • Have you been diagnosed with high blood Pressure?
  • Is your BMI more than 35?
  • Are you Age 50 or more?
  • Is your Neck circumference more than 16 inches?
  • Is your Gender male?

Although these aren’t the only risk factors for sleep apnea, and many people have sleep apnea without risk factors, this questionnaire is a good place to start determining your risk level.

However, the only way to actually diagnose sleep apnea is with a sleep test that is interpreted by a sleep doctor. For most people, convenient and easy at-home sleep tests work well, but if you have other sleep disorders or if the at-home test doesn’t work, then you may have to take a sleep study at a sleep lab.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

CPAP mask, tubing, and machineOnce you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor will likely prescribe CPAP. CPAP is a very effective sleep apnea treatment, but it’s not the most comfortable or convenient. Some of the common complaints about CPAP include:

  • Facial irritation from the mask
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Restricted movement by the hoses
  • Sense of claustrophobia or choking
  • Nightmares
  • Forced air irritation
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Noise
  • Clutter
  • Difficulty traveling with machine

Even using the low standard of just 4 hours a night on 70% of nights, compliance rates for CPAP are 60-70%, and even if people comply with the treatment, they’re not always happy about it.

If you have severe sleep apnea–defined as 30 or more awakening events each hour–you will definitely benefit from CPAP over other treatments, and you should work hard to comply with CPAP. Talk to your medical suppliers about equipment that can help you overcome these problems. Support groups are available that can dramatically improve your compliance rate.

But if you have mild or moderate sleep apnea–less than 30 awakening events each hour–oral appliance therapy is likely as effective as CPAP, and you should consider it even before you try CPAP if you don’t like the thought of CPAP.

You can take this option even if your doctor, insurance company, employer, or others demand compliance recording. We offer compliance recording from SomnoDent ®. This allows you to get required compliance recording without the inconvenience of CPAP.

An oral appliance works by repositioning your jaw so that your airway stays open while you’re sleeping. The result is better breathing, with reduced snoring and sleep apnea. Many people see their symptoms completely resolve with oral appliances. And compliance rates with oral appliances are high: 95% using the same standard as CPAP, and perhaps 84% using the all night every night standard.

People enjoy oral appliances because they’re easy to use, comfortable, easy to transport, and discreet.

If you are looking for comfortable, convenient sleep apnea treatment in Valdosta, GA, please call (229) 242-5511 for an appointment with sleep dentist Dr. Nelson Clements.

Dr. Nelson Clements offers a comfortable alternative to traditional sleep apnea treatment. CPAP is effective, but many people find it hard to use, while oral appliances are much more convenient and are just as effective. To learn more about sleep apnea treatment options in Valdosta, GA, please call (229) 242-5511 or email for an appointment with Dr. Clements.