OSA is a complete cessation of breathing during sleep for at least 10 seconds. It affects primarily those aged 40-60, and affects more males than females. If left untreated (which most cases are...) the severity of the condition worsens, with recent literature suggesting that 12 million American suffer from this common disorder. During an episode of OSA the entire upper airway is blocked causing airflow to stop. The lack of oxygenflow disrupts sleep patterns causing repeated awakenings as the person makes every effort to breathe, whilst they are suffocating in their own bed. OSA sufferer's wake in the morning feeling unrefreshed.

Clinical signs and symptoms include intermittent snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, lethargy, gasping or choking causing repeated awakenings, waking up unrefreshed, poor memory, irritability, personality changes and morning headaches.

The concern I have for so many undiagnosed cases is the cardiovascular co-morbidities associated with the condition. Research suggests 57% of OSA patients have systemic hypertension (high bp), 25% Ischemic Heart Disease, 17% Coronary Heart Disease and 7% have strokes. As dental clinicians we are in a unique position to screen patients for OSA and to refer to a sleep physician for a definitive diagnosis. Our screening should include a thorough initial examination, including an Epworth Sleep study. At Casey Dentists we have an understanding of the risk factors for OSA including obesity, male gender predominance, alcohol consumption, use of sedatives and smoking. For those having a hard night's sleep organise an appointment with Dr Matthew Casey for an evaluation and overnight sleep study (polysomnograph – PSG ).

Discuss your problem with a Townsville Dentist. Contact Dr Matthew J Casey.