Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Snoring: Fixing what a Punch in the Shoulder Can't Solve

According to a recent New York Times piece, treating snoring and sleep apnea often requires trial and error.

A common misconception about sleep apnea is that it only affects older, overweight men. But sleep apnea can affect anyone, even children.

The article tells how Dr. Elizabeth Walton, a 43-year-old mother of two, has a common and sometimes embarrassing health problem – snoring.

“We laugh and joke about snoring,” said Dr. Nancy A. Collop, president elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “but it can be pretty annoying and disruptive to couples.”

Almost half of the adult population snores at least occasionally and for half of them, snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, a serious medical condition.

After trying CPAP and finally settling on opal appliance therapy, Dr. Walton, and her partner, are both sleeping better.

Because Dr. Walton has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) instead of primary snoring, medical insurance has covered most of her treatments.

Oral appliances are custom-made mouthguards that move your lower jaw forward to open your airway during sleep.

A dentist who specializes in sleep medicine fits an appliance to your mouth, usually for $1,500 to $3,000. That price should include all follow-up visits and any adjustments that need to be made, said Dr. Sheri Katz, president of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Medicare reimburses patients for oral appliance therapy if they meet certain medical criteria.

Studies show that custom-fit appliances ease mild to moderate sleep apnea in about 75 percent of patients and snoring in 80 to 90 percent of patients who use them regularly, said Dr. Katz.

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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.