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What is Sleep Apnea?

What is Sleep Apnea?

Approximately 75% of Americans have never asked this question and live with symptoms of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea symptoms look like:

  • Snoring

  • Frequent breaks of pauses in breathing

  • You’re tired all the time

  • Poor memory

  • Forgetful

  • Choking or gasping for air during sleep

  • You wake up with frequent headaches in the morning

  • Multiple nighttime bathroom trips

  • You have high blood pressure

  • Being overweight or obese


Sleep apnea shouldn’t be accepted as a normal way of life.


What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common condition and chronic disorder affecting millions, where while sleeping, sleep apnea patients repeatedly stop breathing during the night. Each pause in breathing is called “apnea” - which means "no breath". This pause typically lasts 10 seconds or longer and happens regularly throughout the night.


How Often Does It Happen?

Some  experience 5 to 30 apnea episodes in one hour. When breathing is irregular, carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream, triggering the brain to wake the sleeping person and resume breathing.


Why Does Sleep Apnea Happen?

When someone with obstructive sleep apnea (or OSA) sleeps, gravity and muscle relaxation allows the tongue and surrounding soft tissue to fall back into the throat area. This collapses the airway and obstructs the airflow. This condition is further complicated by excessive weight, loss of muscle tone due to aging or excessive tissue in the upper airway. Additionally, sleeping on your back or alcohol use may increase apnea events.


What Are The Consequences of Untreated Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea consequences can be significant. When left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to several physical issues and diseases, as well as major health complications. (1) Other consequences for sleep apnea are:

  • An 83% increase in drug-resistant hypertension

  • A 77% increase in obesity

  • A 76% increase in congestive heart failure

  • A 59% increase in diabetes

  • A 76% increase in coronary artery disease


What Are my Treatment Options?

The good news is sleep apnea is a treatable condition and solutions exist which have helped patients around the world rest easier, feel better during the day, and reduce their risk of health complications.  


Outside of weight loss where appropriate, two primary options exist for the treatment of sleep apnea:

  • CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure): CPAP is administered through a CPAP machine, which supplies pressurized air through a tube and into a mask worn over the nose, or sometimes over the nose and the mouth. The increased air pressure prevents the sleeper's airway from collapsing during sleep.

  • COAT (Continuous Open Airway Therapy): COAT is delivered via an oral device prescribed by a sleep physician and fitted by a dentist so it can be comfortably worn in the mouth. The device treats OSA by moving the lover jaw slightly forward, which keeps the airway open.


How Do I Start My Treatment?

Getting started for sleep apnea is easier than ever.  Beginning treatment should look something like:

1. Talk to your physician about your symptoms. If you don't have a sleep physician, ask your primary care physician for a sleep physician referral.

2. Your sleep physician will order a sleep study, and provide you with the diagnosis afterwards.

3. If diagnosed with mild-moderate sleep apnea, COAT is an option for you.  A dentist will fit you with your device. Ask your dentist about any of our SomnoDent devices and discuss the sleep physician's diagnosis.


If you or your loved one struggles with sleep apnea, use this information to obtain relief. Let us know how we can help - contact a SomnoMed customer service representative at 888-447-6673.

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