Dr. Jonathan Greenburg, DDS
Snoring and Sleep Apnea Expert
March 20, 2014

Breathlessness, Panic, Fear, a Sense of Helplessness; have you ever felt these? When the person in bed lying next to you is snoring and it sounds like they are choking in their sleep, what goes through your mind? If you or your loved one have ever experienced something like this, you may not know it, but the choking you hear at night could be a warning sign of a more serious problem that could lead to significant health issues, including death. It is estimated that 80% of all sleep apnea cases go undiagnosed.

Now consider the fact that we have recently been seeing a terrifying amount of cases where, according to the patient and their loved ones, not even the slightest snore, cough, or gasp was heard, while they test off the charts for life-threatening sleep apnea. Imagine how tragic the realization is when you finally grasp that the love of your life is suffocating next to you and not only are they dying in their sleep, but also cannot effectively alert anyone. If you’re not horrified, you should be.

If it were not for the recent work snoring and sleep apnea experts were doing to raise awareness about the signs of undiagnosed sleep apnea and the typical symptoms, not only would many of these silent sufferers most likely die from sleep apnea, but also, their loved ones would have to live forever wondering if they could have prevented it. The truth is, they could have. It’s this simple, if you are struggling to lose weight, have little to no energy, wake up feeling tired, can’t find the motivation you once had, chances are you are struggling with some form of sleep impairment. It may not be full-blown and potentially lethal sleep apnea; however, a simple test could tell you and an expert like myself everything we need to know.

Think about it – a simple test can make all the noise you need to save you or your loved-ones life? If you have even the slightest notion that you or your loved-one may be struggling to find healthy sleep patterns, get tested immediately! It’s affordable, easy, and will help us save your life; the truest fools are the ones who choose not to know.

Whether you’re shaking the rafters with snoring or as silent as a church mouse, choking in the bed is your body talking to you, but are you listening? Do you feel alive and full of energy when you leap out of bed every morning…I didn’t think so. Both traditional sleep apnea and silent sleep apnea are potentially deadly, either way, you can start the healing today if you get contact a snoring and sleep apnea expert. In case you weren’t clear, let me remind you what you’re up against with sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that, left untreated, could lead to:

  • 4 times increased risk of Cancer
  • Increased risk of Stroke
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Higher rate of death due to Heart Disease
  • Heart Attack
  • Diabetes causing impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance
  • Impaired concentration
  • Falling asleep at work or behind the wheel of your car
  • Mood changes
  • Increased risk of being involved in a deadly motor vehicle accident
  • Gastric Reflux (GERD)

Sleep apnea is not just a mild to moderate nuisance that can be endured or will just go away over time. (Actually, it gets worse with age, not better.) It is a warning sign that your body is telling you that you need to take action.

What Causes Sleep Apnea And Why Is It Important To Me?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says, “The brain responds to the lack of oxygen (produced by a blockage in your airway) by alerting the body, causing a brief arousal from sleep that restores normal breathing. This pattern can occur hundreds of times in one night…

Most people with OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) snore loudly and frequently, with periods of silence when airflow is reduced or blocked. They then make choking, snorting or gasping sounds when their airway reopens.” This pattern results in broken sleep, fatigue, restlessness and next-day loss of focus. But it may also lead to more serious consequences as noted above and may be eerily silent – how terrifying is that?!

Who’s At Risk?

OSA can occur in any age group, but prevalence increases between middle and older age. Those most at risk include:

  • Loud Snorers
  • People who are overweight (Body Mass Index of 25 to 29.9) and obese (Body Mass Index of 30 and above)
  • Men and women with large neck sizes: 17 inches or more for men, 16 inches or more for women
  • Middle-aged and older men, and post-menopausal women
  • Ethnic minorities
  • People with abnormalities of the bony and soft tissue structure of the head and neck
  • Adults and children with Down Syndrome
  • Children with large tonsils and adenoids
  • Anyone who has a family member with OSA
  • People with endocrine disorders such as Acromegaly and Hypothyroidism
  • Smokers
  • Those suffering from nocturnal nasal congestion due to abnormal morphology, rhinitis or both
  • People that gag easily, especially at the Dental Office
  • Those diagnosed with High Blood Pressure
  • People with Type II Diabetes

If you belong in any one of these groups, ask yourself, How many times have you had episodes where you’ve awaken in the middle of the night gasping for air, reaching for a pillow, water, anything to help you breathe? It may be more than just a one-time thing or something to shrug off. And how about the fear and frustration of a partner sleeping with you whom you wake up from your breathless attack or worse…never heard your attack at all?

It’s one thing to suffer sleep apnea on your own. It’s another to watch a loved one suffer alongside you when you are trying to sleep.

What Can I Do?

Fortunately there is hope and treatment for sleep apnea. A snoring and sleep apnea expert must first diagnose it; and most-likely a “Home Sleep Study,” (HST) will be scheduled to get an exact picture of your sleep patterns. Only then will we be able to determine the best course of action; however, within a matter of days a qualified expert can begin the lifesaving process.

After diagnosis, suitable treatments may include:

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP):

High success rate, especially for Severe Sleep Apnea but difficult to tolerate for many patients, CPAP introduces a steady stream of pressurized air to patients through a mask that they wear while asleep to keep the airway open.

Oral appliances:

Good for mild to moderate cases. Oral appliances look like sports mouth guards and help maintain an open and unobstructed airway. Zyppah’s mouthpiece provides double protection by advancing the jaw as well as stabilizing the tongue.

Surgery:

Surgery is a treatment option for OSA when treatments such as CPAP and oral appliances are unsuccessful.

Other options include behavioral changes, over-the-counter remedies and position therapy. It is essential to have a sleep study done after treatment if you had surgery or an oral appliance. The lack of snoring does not mean the treatment was successful.

If you or a loved one suffers from sleep apnea, go see a snoring and sleep apnea specialist immediately and get diagnosed. Uncontrolled choking or waking up at night gasping for air is not something to be ignored. And for those of you without the luxury of snoring as a red flag, get tested to be sure. Take it seriously. Get it checked out tonight!

-Dr. Greenburg