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Dr. Soileau Explains Snoring & Sleep Apnea

January 18th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Is Your Snoring Killing You?

Sleeping Beauty had a secret to staying so thin and beautiful, she had a good nights sleep every night!!

sleep-apnea-coupleBut it isn’t funny to the person trying to sleep next you. And what it’s doing to your body at night is not funny either. This is because it may be killing you, just slowly.

Snoring occurs because there is a disruption of airflow going into your lungs. The usual cause for the disruption is your tongue or soft pallet (roof of your mouth) falling back into your throat and partially blocking the air. This causes the gurgling noises. Over time the condition gets worse. Your throat can become completely closed off so no air goes through to your lungs. It always surprises the spouse when they tell me their husband/wife stopped snoring and I tell them they may have actually stopped breathing. When this happens it is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Sleep apnea occurs when you fail to breathe for 10 seconds or more during sleep. These ten seconds of not breathing can occur up to hundreds of times during the night. Your brain will detect the lack of oxygen try to correct it. It will continually wake you up, sometimes with a jerk and gasping for air. Your heart will be racing trying to increase the blood carrying oxygen traveling to your brain. When you are sleeping your heart should be resting, not racing. Over time this will cause significant damage to your heart. Other health problems will begin to occur as the quality of your sleep continually gets worse. During sleep our bodies regulate many hormones some of which control hunger. Leptin tells your brain you don’t need food and Ghrelin triggers hunger.

If you are not getting quality sleep these hormones become unbalanced. This could explain why you gain weight so easily and can’t get rid of it. And if you are gaining weight uncontrollably diabetes is just around the corner. If you’re a diabetic it is very important that you find out if you also have obstructive sleep apnea. Heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, stoke, weight gain, menstrual irregularities, teeth grinding, periodontal disease, and depression are all symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. These are all diseases occurring because your sleep cycles are interrupted so your body’s hormones are not being regulated. These are also the symptoms that occur after several years of living with obstructive sleep apnea and most patients with these symptoms are over the age of fifty. But symptoms do occur at earlier years but are often misdiagnosed.

CPAPAt least 50% of the patients I treat for obstructive sleep apnea are between 25 and 40, work out at Red’s or City Club, have great bodies, active life style, and growing careers. Most of them are on some form of antidepressants and struggle to focus in class, have trouble remembering names and dates, and fall asleep during the day. Their obstructive sleep apnea is preventing them from going through all phases of sleep. Sleep is classified into 4 phases that we go through repeatedly each night: N1, N2, N3/4, and REM. N3/4 is when our brain processes facts and data. If you have troubles remembering what you learned in class or what was said in a board meeting you may not being getting to this stage enough during sleep. REM stage is where we process emotions and events. If you have trouble controlling your emotions it may simply be that you don’t get enough REM sleep each night because you have obstructive sleep apnea.

Diagnosing sleep apnea is not complicated. First you have to figure out if you suffer from it. If you snore, have migraines, trouble sleeping, sleepiness during the day, neck size 17 inches or greater, are over weight, have diabetes or heart disease ask your dentist or family doctor if they screen for sleep apnea. If they feel you may have this problem they will refer you for a sleep study. Acadiana has some fantastic sleep centers for this. The sleep study will tell you for sure if you have sleep apnea, to what degree, and any other sleep problems. Treating sleep apnea is simply getting air into your lungs while you sleep. Many patients use a machine called a CPAP. It consists of a hose connected to a pump and face- mask that forces air into your throat to open the blockage and get air to your lungs. If your lifestyle does not allow you to wear the CPAP each night you can be fitted with a dental mouth piece that lifts your jaw back to the position it is in during the day. This will keep your tongue out of your throat and allow you to breath. A third option is to have your tonsils, adenoids, soft palate, or any other tissue blocking your throat removed. If you had your tonsils removed already there may still be some excess tissue blocking your throat.Soileau 1.10

The wonderful aspect of the human body is its ability to correct itself. If you can get a good nights sleep many of the symptoms of sleep apnea will begin to get better and some may even return to normal over time. The earlier you have it treated the better your life will be!

Dr. Tony Soileau, DDS is a family dentist who has been treating his patients for snoring and sleep apnea here in Lafayette since 1994. For additional information call (337) 234-3551. Visit Dr. Soileau online at

Tags: Clinical

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Stacy Becker-Walker, DDS // Jan 18, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Great article…..I wish more dentists AND physicians discussed this epidemic with their patients! What appliance are you using and where did you go for sleep dental medicine courses?
    Warmest Regards,

  • 2 Pat // Jan 19, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Thank you for the informative article. I found it to be both interesting and helpful. This is great information to keep in mind.

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