Mar 13

How is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) diagnosed?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious medical condition. It is a condition that is characterized by a person’s inability to breath when sleeping. This is due to a person’s airway being obstructed, usually by the base of the tongue or by the excessive soft tissue of the throat. Obstructive sleep apnea varies in severity, but is considered dangerous at any level. It must be diagnosed by a physician. Diagnosis is based on the results of an overnight sleep study, called a Polysomnogram (PSG). A PSG is usually carried out in a sleep center. Today the sleep centers resemble a nice hotel. These centers are readily available throughout the United States. When undergoing the PSG, or sleep study, several factors are being evaluated. These include: the level of oxygen in the blood, blood pressure, pulse rate, snoring sound levels, body positioning, and the stages of sleep. Once a proper diagnosis has been made the sleep physician will make a recommendation for the appropriate treatment. These treatments may include the use of a CPAP, or a sleep apnea mouthpiece that is made by a qualified dentist. The sleep apnea mouthpiece may be used for people that suffer from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. A dental sleep apnea mouthpiece can also be used for those patients that can’t wear a CPAP for whatever reason. The dental sleep apnea mouth piece holds the lower jaw in a more forward position. This helps to open the airway and allows the patient to breath easier. A CPAP is the gold standard for patients that have obstructive sleep apnea, especially for those patients that suffer from severe obstructive sleep apnea. However, many patients cannot tolerate the use of a CPAP. These reasons vary from the noise that the mask makes as air leaks from around the mask, to the feeling of being confined and claustrophobic. Many patients also report that the CPAP makes it difficult for their partner to sleep in the same room. Nevertheless, I still recommend that my patients follow their physicians instructions, and at least try their very best to use their CPAP. If they still cannot tolerate it, then I will make them a sleep apnea mouthpiece.

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