4 Warning Signs of an Obstructed Airway

Most of us have heard that eight is the magic number as far as hours of sleep each night. While 8 hours of sleep would be nice, it’s not realistic for most people. In fact, according to most research only about 40% of Americans are able to achieve that magic number on a regular basis.

However, it’s not necessarily the number of hours of sleep you get each night that’s detrimental to your health but rather the quality of your sleep. For example, if you are repeatedly waking up throughout the night due to snoring, you are much less likely to get into your much needed REM sleep cycle. Not only will lack of quality sleep affect your health, it could also be harmful to others. A poor night’s sleep affects your reaction time and coordination resulting in an increased risk for automobile accidents. According to the CDC an estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers have reported falling asleep while driving in the past 30 days. That’s pretty scary, don’t you think?

Ask yourself the 4 questions below to determine whether or not you are getting the best quality of sleep each night.

  1. Do you wake up every day feeling tired no matter how long you’ve slept?
  2. Do you frequently breathe out of your mouth while sleeping?
  3. Do you snore nightly?
  4. Do you wake up with a headache on a daily basis?

If you answered yes to at least two of these questions, you may have an obstructed airway. If you notice you sleep worse when lying on your back or after taking sleep medication, those are also signs that your airway could be obstructed. In many cases, an obstructed airway can lead to a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. Not to fear, OSA is treatable and there are now multiple treatment options to suit individuals busy lifestyles.

Before we get into treatment options it’s important to point out that if you believe you may have an obstructed airway or OSA, you should have a sleep study done either at a sleep lab or via a take home sleep test kit. Keep in mind only a licensed medical physician can diagnose you with sleep apnea.

Treatment Options

The most common treatment for OSA is a CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure machine. However, many individuals are unable to tolerate to the machine.

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is a great option for individuals unable to tolerate their CPAP machine. Oral appliance therapy uses a mouth-guard like device to reposition your jaw and keep the tongue from blocking your airway at night while sleeping. Each device is custom made and can easily be adjusted for optimal comfort. Many patients prefer oral appliances due to their ease of use and portability.

Surgical procedures are usually a last resort for sleep apnea suffers. According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, surgeries have varying side effects and rates of success.

If you believe that you may have an obstructed airway or obstructive sleep apnea it’s imperative to have a sleep study done as soon as possible. If you are in fact diagnosed with OSA, take a look at the treatment options to decide which would best fit your lifestyle. Plus, most medical insurances will cover all or a portion of your sleep apnea treatment. Get back to a healthy restful night’s sleep – for you and your partner!