A Cure for Snoring (Obstructive Sleep Apnea)

Beware, SNORING, may be a telltale sign that your sleep is not restorative and healthy!!!  Snoring is very often associated with a condition called  obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Did you know that sleep apnea may be associated with conditions such as hypertension or high blood pressure, heart disease, atrial fibrillation and hormonal imbalances?  It is imperative to seek an integrative and functional medicine provider to help restore metabolic pathways when dealing with sleep apnea.  Although sharing a bed with a snoring mate can be miserable, do your partner a  favor and have them checked for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by pauses in sleep. Apnea literally translates as “cessation of breathing”.  These pauses may last anywhere from 10 seconds or longer.  During this pause the body may not get enough oxygen, leading longterm to a potential multitude of health problems. With overweight conditions, obesity, alcohol use and metabolic syndrome on the rise, there are millions of Americans today with undiagnosed and untreated obstructive sleep apnea, adding to the risk factors for the development  of chronic disease.

Convenient Low Cost Testing in Fort Collins

At Balanced Well Being Healthcare we offer efficient and sensitive diagnostic testing for obstructive sleep apnea, right from the comfort of your own home.  No expensive overnight sleep studies at a lab may be needed unless you have special circumstances or needs.  Most people avoid doing a sleep study because they do not want to spend a night or two away from home.  Additionally, sleep studies at a formal lab are costly and inefficient.  High deductible plans often  prohibit people from performing a sleep study when they are at high risk for sleep apnea.  Most people cannot afford the “out of pocket” expense for a sleep study performed at a sleep lab. This is a tragedy leaving many of those with the condition yet undiagnosed and at risk for chronic disease.  Our device allows the sleep study to be performed in your home. Home testing for sleep apnea has been found to a very safe, efficient and sensitive way to check for obstructive sleep apnea.

There have now been 5 large randomized trials to support home sleep testing.  In my opinion,  The medical evidence supporting home sleep testing is overwhelmingly convincing.  In a recent medical publication SLEEP (2012; 35(6): 735-36) Dr Charles Atwood writes, “It is very likely that over the next few years, home sleep apnea testing will continue to grow and  may replace polysomnography as the initial diagnostic test for many patients.”  Additionally, he states that “since 2007, we have seen clinical trials published that have begun to consistently demonstrate that clinical outcomes relevant to obstructive sleep apnea patients are the same whether they are performed in the home setting or the laboratory setting.” I urge you today to read more about sleep apnea, the signs, symptoms and risk factors as well as treatment options.

Download Our Initial Diagnostic Form Now

Download our sleep apnea questionnaire and see if you are at risk.  Call our office at 970-631-8286 to schedule your home test at an affordable price, from the comfort of your home.   Remember, once the diagnosis is made, the treatment does not rest with treatment for sleep apnea.  Recall, sleep apnea has root causes in the body.  Ideally, we want to perform a comprehensive, integrative and functional medicine approach to your cure. At Balanced Well Being Healthcare we seek root causes of illness before they become chronic disease.  Anyone with obstructive sleep apnea may also have obesity, overweight conditions, metabolic syndrome, hormonal imbalances, nutritional disturbances or even drug side effects related to the  diagnosis. Rebalance and restore today: don’t put “band-aids” on the underlying cause.

The there are two main types of sleep disorders–obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.The most common type of sleep disorder is the obstructive variety. In obstructive sleep apnea the upper  airway leading to the lungs becomes obstructed at various potential spots.  This obstruction may be caused by excess tissue in the airway as in obesity, enlarged tonsils, a very large tongue, nasal obstruction and relaxation of the airway musculature collapsing when asleep. Central apnea is less common and is related to problems with the brain triggering the proper signals to continue with respiration. We will talk only about Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) here, it is by far the more common variety. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious health problem that is currently under diagnosed.  As many as 20 million Americans may currently have untreated OSA. The symptoms of sleep apnea may be very subtle to very significant.  The spectrum of symptomatology is broad.  With the rise of overweightness and obesity in the population, a large segment of the population is at risk.  It is imperative to get tested for sleep apnea if you have symptoms or risk factors because untreated apnea can lead to serious health problems.  Studies have documented people with sleep apnea  may have an increase risk of heart attack. Let’s explore a little further.

Potential Consequences of Untreated Sleep Apnea:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Coronary Artery Disease (blockages of the heart arteries) that can lead to heart attack and stroke
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Worsening Heart Failure
  • Poor quality of life

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

  • Snoring
  • Waking unrefreshed from sleep
  • Daytime fatigue and somnolence
  • Drowsy throughout the day
  • Fall asleep easily while watching TV Feel sleepy while driving
  • Difficult to treat headaches
  • Increase in anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of libido
  • Restless sleep Restless legs
  • Hyperactive behavior, especially in children
  • Gasping or choking sensation arousing you from sleep
  • Irritability, impatience

Risk factors for developing sleep apnea:

  • Male>40 Overweight, a BMI (Body Mass Index) > 25
  • Obesity, a BMI > 30 Metabolic syndrome
  • HTN
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol use/abuse
  • Narcotic use
  • Large neck circumference; Male > 16.5 inches , Female > 15.5  inches
  • Facial characteristics–narrow upper jaw, receding chin, overbite, crowding of teeth/overlapping teeth, large tongue
  • Gastroesophageal reflux or indigestion (GERD)
  • Thyroid disorders, most commonly hypo, or poorly functioning thyroid
  • Low levels of testosterone, or hypogonadism

Treatment of Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Treatment for sleep apnea will vary depending on the severity and any other associated conditions. Simply prescribing a sleep device or CPAP machine is never appropriate  in isolation. Examining and reviewing with a patient potential treatable  underlying “root causes” is the best overall approach.  For example, a patient who is overweight or obese  needs intensive counseling on nutritional  and lifestyle changes in order to lose weight.  Many cases of sleep apnea will resolve with weight loss and resolution of the metabolic syndrome.

Patients must also be counseled on other hormonal disorders, including the thyroid and perhaps testosterone support.  If there are oral/dental issues, the patient may benefit from a visit to a dentist experienced in helping with sleep apnea.

CPAP Machines

Devices that pressurize the air to keep the throat open during sleep are often prescribed.  These devices are referred to as CPAP machines.  CPAP stands for continuous positive airflow pressure.  It is safe and effective in sleep apnea for patients of all ages including children. A CPAP machine is a device that weighs about 5 pounds and may be placed next to the bedside.  CPAP machines can be very portable for travelers. The patient wears a small mask that fits over the nose. A tube from the mask connects to the machine supplying a stream of air and pressure to keep the airway open. CPAP  is a medical prescription provided by a sleep expert, someone who is well trained and certified in sleep disorders.  CPAP machines and masks should be fitted by a trained and experienced professional. Once CPAP is prescribed, often a repeat sleep study is performed to document the appropriate level of airway pressure to maintain open airways.  In other words, you want to make sure it is working correctly.

Simple Dental Devices

Sometimes a dental device is all that is needed  to keep the airway, and the patient may need to see a dentist or an orthodontist to get fitted for such a device.  Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD) look like mouth guards and hold the jaw down and forward to permit the airway to remain open.  There are also Tongue Retraining Devices (TRD)  to keep the tongue from blocking the airway.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgery

Surgery may be necessary for patients is some conditions.  For instance if the tonsils are so enlarged blocking the airway, surgery can be beneficial.  Surgery can also be performed to reduce the volume of the palate. Overall, when sleep apnea is successfully treated there are tremendous health benefits to be gained.

Treating Sleep Apnea is Critical to Your Health & Wellness!

It is critical to obtain adequate sleep for overall health and wellness. It is during sleep that we become restored, hormones reset and we feel rested and ready to start a new day. By treating sleep apnea we are also practicing prevention mainly improving cardiovascular outcomes, hormonal balance and sense of well being. It is imperative in treating that sleep apnea that we not get caught up in the conventional medical paradigm of diagnosis and treatment.  The approach to sleep apnea should then include not just the treatment, but an integrative and functional medicine  approach to root causes.  In many cases, once root causes are resolved, the patient may no longer require treatment.

For more information about Sleep Apnea, visit out Sleep Apnea overview page here. You can also download our initial diagnostic questionnaire and schedule your initial consultation with Balanced Well-Being Healthcare by calling us at 970-631-8286 or using our online contact form.