Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz, CA

What is Sleep Disordered Breathing?

Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) is a group of disorders that disrupts normal respiratory patterns during sleep, usually resulting in daytime sleepiness and a host of systemic health complications.  Snoring, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS), and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) are all forms of SDB.  While snoring is a very common phenomenon – roughly 90 million American snore – it is not normal and can be the first clue to diagnosing SDB.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

OSA is the most severe form of Sleep Disordered Breathing.  It is characterized by “apneic events” – a complete cessation of breathing lasting at least 10 seconds – and is diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe.  It is estimated that sleep apnea will be one of the most common chronic diseases in industrialized countries, with 20% of adults suffering from it by 2010.  However, currently 95% of OSA patients are undiagnosed.  Symptoms vary from person to person.  Common complaints may consist of daytime sleepiness, broken or fragmented sleep, morning headaches, waking up with a feeling of choking or gasping for breath, inability to concentrate, and dry mouth and throat.  It is important to note that you do not have to snore to have sleep apnea, nor do you have to be an adult – anyone from infants to the elderly can be afflicted with OSA.

What Are The Consequence of OSA?

The consequences of untreated OSA are numerous and can be very serious.

They include:

  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Right and left congestive heart failure
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Injury/death due to automobile accident from excessive daytime sleepiness

OSA has also been linked to Type II Diabetes, ADD/ADHD and bed-wetting in children, and depression.

A Matter of Life & Death

Obstructive sleep apnea is not something to take lightly.  Consider some of the following sobering statistics:

  • 60-80% of snorers will test positive for OSA with a sleep study
  • 90% of OSA patients suffer from hypertension
  • OSA is present in 2-3% of all pre-school children
  • OSA is responsible for a 16 point drop in IQ
  • An OSA patient is 23.3X more likely to have a heart attack than a healthy patient
  • 100,000 auto accidents occur yearly as a direct result of driver sleepiness
  • Untreated OSA results in a 20% reduction in life expectancy!

Diagnosing OSA

Sleep apnea can only be diagnosed by a specially trained physician after a sleep study is administered.  Drs. Ebrahimian provide an at-home sleep study to screen for sleep apnea.  The home sleep test is a small, non-invasive, easy-to-use device that allows patients to find out whether they may have obstructive sleep apnea in the comfort of their own home.  Many signs of possible OSA are evident in the mouth in the form of grinding and clenching, acid erosion of enamel, a scalloped tongue, and a high palate, to name a few.  For this reason, Dr. Max & Dr. Ariana are in a unique position to screen everyone for sleep apnea and make the appropriate referrals if necessary.

Treating OSA

Once a diagnosis of OSA is made, there are a few options available to you.  These range from CPAP and oral appliance therapy to orthognathic surgery where the jaws are surgically repositioned to open the airway and permanently resolve the sleep apnea.  Dr. Max and Dr. Ariana are part of a competent team of specialists who manage sleep breathing disorders and will help you make the right decision for you based on your individual needs and goals.  If you currently suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, or you think you may have a sleep breathing disorder, call us at 831-824-5111 for a consult.