Sleep studies can save your life by helping your doctor diagnose you with dangerous sleeping disorders. Over 60 million Americans suffer from some type of sleeping problem or disorder. What many people don’t realize is just how dangerous this can be. Untreated sleep disorders and problems lead to a plethora of problems. Depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and even death can result from sleep disorders.
The Bethesda Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry can help patients treat sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. Before you can start treatment you must meet with a sleep specialist for evaluation. They’ll run you through sleep studies to help diagnose your condition.
It is sometimes difficult to recognize the symptoms of sleep disorders on your own. Most of the time it’s the patient’s partner that realizes there may be a problem. You and your partner can work together to see if your symptoms warrant a visit to the doctor. If you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, you may have a sleep disorder. If your partner reports heavy snoring or gasping for air while you’re asleep, these could be signs of obstructive sleep apnea. Additional signs to look for include waking up with headaches, dry mouth, and sore throat. Also, excessive tiredness during the day after a full night of rest can also indicate a problem. If these symptoms present for more than two weeks you should consult your doctor.
It’s extremely important to seek a diagnosis and treatment if you think you have a sleep disorder. The National Sleep Foundation discusses the seriousness of sleep disorders:
The Institute of Medicine recently estimated in its report, Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem , that “hundreds of billions of dollars a year are spent on direct medical costs related to sleep disorders such as doctor visits, hospital services, prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications.” Sleep problems and lack of sleep can affect everything from personal and work productivity to behavioral and relationship problems. Sleep problems can have serious consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving claims more than 1,500 lives and causes at least 100,000 motor vehicle crashes each year.
As you can see, sleep disorders are serious. They have the ability to impact every facet of your life. This is why it’s so important to talk to your doctor if you believe you may have a sleep disorder.
Having a discussion with your doctor is the first step to treatment. They may then refer you to a sleep specialist to undergo sleep studies. Tell them about all the symptoms you’ve experienced, even if you think they might be unrelated. From there, sleep studies will proceed as discussed by the National Sleep Foundation:
After an initial consultation with your physician or a sleep specialist, you may be referred for a sleep study. The medical term for this study is “polysomnogram,” which is a noninvasive, pain-free procedure that usually requires spending a night or two in a sleep facility. During a polysomnogram, a sleep technologist records multiple biological functions during sleep, such as brain wave activity, eye movement, muscle tone, heart rhythm and breathing via electrodes and monitors placed on the head, chest and legs.
After a full night’s sleep is recorded, the data will be tabulated by a technologist and presented to a physician for interpretation. Depending on the physician’s orders, patients may be given therapy during the course of the study, which may include medication, oxygen or a device called continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP.
Depending on your polysomnogram results, your doctor may recommend additional sleep studies. These additional studies are vital to diagnosing the correct disorder. It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations. Not diagnosing your sleep disorder can be very dangerous. You’re risking your own health, and the lives of others by not seeking treatment.
The data collected from your sleep studies is provided to your doctor for review. They will then be able to provide a diagnosis. From there, you’ll begin treatment. Sleep apnea is a commonly diagnosed condition. One common treatment options for this sleep disorder is the continuous positive airway pressure machine, also known as a CPAP. The National Sleep Foundation advises:
CPAP is an air pressure system that helps hold the air passages in the nose and throat open during sleep and eliminates snoring and pauses in breathing. Proper fitting and instruction for use of CPAP equipment – whether simple nosepieces or more elaborate masks – is critical to ensure your comfort and willingness to continue with treatment. There may be a period when different equipment is used and several adjustments are made. It is important that you share your questions and concerns with the sleep specialists who are working with you for the best possible outcome.
However, if a CPAP doesn’t seem ideal to you then you can discuss alternate options with your physician. One popular alternative is night time oral appliances as described by the National Sleep Foundation:
Some patients may be candidates for night-time oral or dental appliances to reduce snoring and apnea. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine at www.aadsm.org lists dental sleep medicine specialists by state.
The Bethesda Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry is trained in the proper use of these dental appliances. If you prefer to go this treatment route then they can help. Our expertly trained staff helps many patients suffering from sleep apnea. We want to extend our services to you. Our goal is to help all of our patients live the life they want.