Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a significant medical problem affecting up to 4% of the middle-aged population. According to a study conducted by Dr Carol Lang in the Department of Medicine at the University of Adelaide, men with undiagnosed OSA have a strong correlation with depression. OSA involves repeated episodes of airway obstruction during sleep, due to relaxation of the tongue and airway muscles. OSA is commonly undiagnosed in approximately 82% of men and 93% of women.
The most common symptom of OSA is loud snoring and is usually detected by the partner of the sufferer. Other indications of OSA include waking unrefreshed, daytime tiredness (which has been found to be a major factor with road accidents), headaches, lack of concentration, impotenceand waking during the night choking or gasping for air. Many patients are unaware that they have OSA, or do not realise the severity of this condition. In some cases, OSA has been found to lead to further medical conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. OSA affects men more frequently than women and is greatly aggravated if the sufferer smokes, drinks alcohol to excess, is overweight or is over the age of 55 years.
The rate of depression in the general population is around 5-6%, whereas in sleep apnoea patients it’s 20-25%. Severe OSA is sometimes treated with a device called a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device. This consists of a mask worn at night while a pump administers increased air pressure to keep the airway open. However, the most common and popular form of treatment is the mandibular advanced splint (MAS). The device pushes the lower jaw forward in order to make more space for breathing. While the CPAP device is considered the most effective treatment of OSA, there is one big problem associated with it; the patients don’t like wearing the mask attached to the pump, which means that CPAP has much lower compliance rather than the MAS.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Device & Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS)
OSA can be diagnosed by undertaking an overnight sleep study in the patient’s own home by simply attaching the specialised equipment when they go to bed. A report is then generated with a diagnosis made by a sleep physician.
The dentists here at Cannon Hill Dental have attended courses and have taken a keen interest in the diagnosis and treatment of this condition, since the problem of OSA has become evident. For further information, please visit http://bitemagazine.com.au/8432-2/
Reference: Leggett, F. (2016, July). Sleep Apnoea and Depression. Bite Magazine, pp. 15-18.