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Common Questions Around Sleep Apnea - Sleep Better NW Common Questions Around Sleep Apnea - Sleep Better NW

Common Questions About Sleep Apnea and Sleep-Related Disorders

Q. What is the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

Snoring occurs when the airway or passage through which we breathe becomes partially blocked or occluded. The narrowing of the airway thus induces vibrations of the soft palate and snoring ensues.

In many situations, this compromise is minor and the body continues to get adequate amounts of oxygen to cause little or no harm. However, this is a red flag as it could also be one of the early signs or a part of sleep apnea. Most all sleep apnea sufferers snore in between bouts of apnea, or oxygen interruption. A sleep study should be done to determine the seriousness of one’s condition.

Sleep apnea patients have a rough night and don’t even know it is happening. In a given night, these apneic events (when a patient stops breathing) can occur anywhere from 30 – 50 times, and in some people as many as 60 – 100 times per hour! Obviously, these individuals awake exhausted each morning, as they’ve been fighting for oxygen all night. Most sleep apneics deny having problems and say they sleep fine all night. It is the bed partner that usually prompts the sleep apneic to get help. More often than not they didn’t realize how bad they felt until they learned what it feels like to get restful sleep!

Should you be worried? Well, to answer that, first analyze some signs and symptoms of sleep apnea sufferers. Common side effects of sleep apnea patients are:

  • heart attacks or irregular heart beats
  • impotence
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • heartburn
  • morning headaches
  • dry mouth
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • impaired concentration
  • depression
  • decreased libido
  • irritability

… and the obvious one, chronic sleepiness.

Q. Are there any indicators that predict sleep apnea?

  • Snoring
  • Overweight
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Acid Reflux
  • Physical abnormality in nose(deviated septum), throat or upper airway including small airway or large tonsil, uvula, or tongue size
  • Neck size (usually 17” or larger in men or 16” in women)
  • Genetics

Q. Do I have a sleep disorder if I just snore?

Easy answer… yes. Even if you may not feel tired during the day there are other things that could be happening at night. Even a non-snorer can have sleep apnea. It is called a “silent apneic”. It is important to seek help from a professional if you feel your health declining.

Q. Why do I need a sleep test before I get an oral appliance?

It is very important to rule if you have sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. See our Sleep Testing page for more information.

Q. My doctor ordered a Pulse-Ox and it showed nothing. Isn’t it the same as a sleep test?

A pulse-ox test done overnight at home is not always a good indicator of whether or not you have sleep apnea. Mild to moderate sleep apnea can go unnoticed on a simple pulse-ox test. It originally was used as a screening tool for ease of use as well as cheap cost. Too many people were told they were fine when in fact there was much more going on.

Q. Does medical insurance cover an oral appliance?

More and more medical insurances are recognizing oral appliance therapy as a therapeutic option. Just last year only 50% of medical insurances covered oral appliances for obstructive sleep apnea diagnoses. Now it is 90%.

Remember… A sleep study and a diagnosis is necessary for insurance to consider reimbursement.

To find if your medical insurance covers an oral appliance you can call the insurance and speak with a customer service agent or call us and come in for a consultation.

We bill medical insurance for you and are Medicare approved!
Read more on our medical billing page

Q. How does an oral appliance work?

The gold standard for treatment of sleep apnea is presently with the CPAP machine. However, only a minority of CPAP owners are still compliant after one year. If you are one of the non-compliant, we can fabricate an oral appliance that will help open your airway and reduce the severity of your sleep apnea.

These appliances reduce sleep apnea associated health risks without the need for surgery, medications, or other therapies. A custom oral appliance worn while sleeping, holds the lower jaw forward and open, preventing the tongue and throat tissues from collapsing the critical airway. There is a high success rate for people treated with these appliances.

Q. Why is it more expensive than the Internet?

The internet solution for sleep apnea is a piece of thermoplastic that you soften in boiling water and then “customize” by biting into it. Often times they are uncomfortable, bulky, and most importantly they don’t adjust. Because they don’t adjust they often times don’t pull the jaw forward enough to be therapeutically effective. The oral appliance made by a professional is custom-made and sent to a nationally renown lab that fabricates an appliance that is titratable and comfortable. It is also made by a professional that is educated in sleep apnea and has taken extra education in sleep medicine. It is also FDA approved and therefore can be covered by medical insurance and Medicare!

Q. I have a dentist. Why would I need to go somewhere else?

First of all, you don’t need to switch dentists for routine cleanings and dental work but it is important to find someone who as adequate training in sleep medicine and follow-up of the appliance. Your dentist might tell you it is easy to make the appliance but the real training comes in adequetely diagnosing the candidacy of an oral appliance and appropriate titrations.