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Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Sleep Apnea and Snoring Treatment in Honolulu, HI – Sleep Disorder Therapy

Have you woken up in the morning and still felt completely exhausted? You may have undiagnosed sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep.  The term sleep apnea is derived from the Greek etymology meaning “without breath”.  Breathing pauses can last anywhere from several seconds to minutes, and happen as often as 30 times or more per hour.  Ongoing disrupted breathing causes an imbalance between the carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the bloodstream, as not enough carbon dioxide is exiting and not enough oxygen is entering the body.

Sensing this imbalance, the brain sends a message to the body, telling it to wake up to restart the breathing process.  People with sleep apnea will partially awake as they struggle to breathe, and this is often accompanied by loud snoring or choking sensations.  Because people with sleep apnea don’t always completely awake during the episodes, they are often unaware they have a sleeping disorder and it can remain undiagnosed.

There are two main types of this disorder; central sleep apnea which occurs when the brain fails to send important signals to the breathing muscles, and obstructive sleep apnea which occurs when air cannot flow through the nose or mouth even though the body is still trying to breathe.  Obstructive sleep apnea is far more prevalent and easily treatable by Dr.Do.

Common signs of obstructive sleep apnea can include severe early morning headaches, sleepiness in the daytime, and insomnia. Fortunately, Dr.Do is equipped with the necessary technology and expertise to treat the root cause of sleep apnea and not just the symptoms. 

Reason for treating sleep apnea

It is very important to seek medical attention if sleep apnea is suspected. A sufferer can completely stop breathing numerous times per hour, and this can quickly turn into a deadly situation. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue lying at the back of the patient’s throat collapses into the airway. The tongue then falls towards the back of the throat which tightens the blockage and prevents oxygen from entering the lungs.

The problem worsens when the chest region, diaphragm, and abdomen fight for air. The efforts they make to obtain vital oxygen only cause a further tightening of the blockage. The patient must arouse from deep sleep to tense the tongue and remove the soft tissue from the airway.

Because sleep apnea causes carbon dioxide levels to skyrocket in the blood and oxygen levels to decrease, the heart has to pump harder and faster to compensate for the lack of oxygen. Sleep apnea patients can technically “die” many times each night. Sleep apnea has been linked to a series of serious heart-related conditions and should be investigated by Dr. Do at the earliest opportunity.

What does sleep apnea treatment involve?

Dr. Do can offer many different treatment options which depend largely on the exact diagnosis and the health of the patient. Dr. Do will initially obtain records to check the root cause of sleep apnea, which is the airway. An airway x-ray or Cone Beam Cat Scan (CBCT) is done to check the size of the airway. From then, she can formulate a treatment plan that will best suit each patient. 

The traditional treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is a CPAP(Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) and usually prescribed by a doctor after a sleep study. CPAP devices work by blowing air down the patient's throat while in use. The size of the airway remains the same. For those who cannot tolerate CPAP treatment, dental appliances called mandibular repositioning appliance (MRA) are prescribed by some dentists.  This appliance moves the jaw forward opening up the airway when in use allowing more air to enter the lungs during sleep. These appliances are a good alternative but it is a palliative treatment since they only treat the symptom. We are able to treat sleep apnea by expanding the airway permanently without surgery and without dental appliance by moving the jaw and teeth when they can function in harmony for a healthy TMJ and an opened airway. To find out more information about our procedures, please schedule a consultation visit. 

If you feel you may benefit from sleep apnea treatment, contact Keri Dr. Do for a consultation today.