Monday, March 15, 2010

Patient Story: New Hope Given for Severe Sleep Apnea

Following a sleep test, patients who suffer from severe sleep apnea will most likely begin treatment with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).

CPAP is the most effective treatment for severe sleep apnea patients. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends oral appliance therapy (OAT) for severe sleep apnea treatment only if the patient cannot tolerate CPAP.

However, a new clinical case study indicates that oral appliances can effectively treat severe sleep apnea. Additionally, people who have no teeth may also be able to use the therapy.

The study included a 61-year-old woman from Turkey. The patient was Caucasian and had no teeth. Her husband recommended her for a sleep study because she stopped breathing during the night. She also experienced loud snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness – two common signs of OSA.

The woman took a sleep test, which indicated an Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) of 97.7/hour. This number means that she stopped breathing almost 100 times per hour during sleep.

The woman initially received CPAP therapy but could not tolerate it. She did not want to undergo surgery, so her physician recommended her for OAT.

The woman received a custom-made oral appliance to accommodate her lack of teeth. The dental device kept her airway open to prevent collapses during sleep.

The patient took a follow-up sleep test her first night using the oral appliance and showed an AHI of 30.6. Thirty days after starting OAT, she took a third test and showed an AHI of 14.8. These results indicate that the OAT reduced her condition from severe to mild sleep apnea.

When CPAP cannot be tolerated, an oral appliance may be a safe and effective alternative treatment. If you suffer from sleep apnea, but cannot tolerate CPAP, don’t let your sleep apnea go untreated. Ask your physician about OAT. You can also find a dentist trained in OAT in your area here.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.