Understanding Causes, Risk Factors, and Treatment Solutions for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Last updated: September 13th, 2023

What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that occurs when your airways are blocked during sleep. The blocked airways cause breathing to stop and start repeatedly, leading to disrupted, often fragmented sleep and several other serious health concerns.

Sleep apnea is caused by a number of risk factors, including being overweight, having excess tissue in the throat, having a large neck circumference, and being over the age of 50. For many people, snoring can be an indication of obstructive sleep apnea, so addressing snoring with lifestyle changes or medical interventions may be helpful.

What is the STOP-Bang Score for Sleep Apnea?

The STOP-Bang score is a simple screening tool used by healthcare professionals to assess a person’s risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The questionnaire asks yes or no questions about specific risk factors and symptoms for OSA. These include snoring, feeling tired or falling asleep during the day, choking, gasping, breathing interrupted during sleep, high blood pressure, BMI greater than 35, age greater than 50, neck circumference greater than 16” and gender.

The STOP-Bang questionnaire is typically used by nonspecialists, meaning doctors and other health care providers who are not sleep specialists. It is meant to help doctors identify high-risk individuals but cannot diagnose OSA. Diagnosis requires testing, typically in the form of a sleep study or polysomnography.

How can Sleep Apnea be Treated?

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it is important to seek appropriate treatment. Treatment for sleep apnea can include lifestyle changes such as weight loss and sleep hygiene habits, special devices such as a CPAP machine or mouth guard, and in some cases, surgery.

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is the use of a CPAP machine, which is a device that delivers a steady stream of air pressure through a face mask during sleep. This helps keep the airways open, enabling you to breathe normally. A mouth guard may also be fitted to help keep the airways open.

In cases of severe sleep apnea, surgery may be an option. Surgery may involve removing excess tissue from the throat or adjusting facial bones to prevent the airways from collapsing during sleep. It is important to discuss all options with your doctor before deciding on any treatment.

What is the Best Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece & Mouthguard?

Anti-snoring mouthpieces and mouthguards are special devices that are designed to keep the airways open and reduce snoring. The use of these devices is especially helpful for people with mild to moderate sleep apnea.

While there are many types of these devices available, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that the device fits your face and is comfortable for use. Popular types of devices include tongue-retaining devices, mandibular advancement devices, and nasal dilators.

An anti-snoring mouthpiece or mouthguard can be used in combination with lifestyle changes such as weight loss, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and sleeping on one's side to help reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. Additionally, these devices can be a useful alternative for people who cannot or do not want to use a CPAP machine.

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