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Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Treatments (Oral Appliance Therapy) – Mobile, AL*

11 Sleep Medicine ( View All )

Sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is recognized as persistent pauses in breathing during sleep. This is the result of your muscles relaxing and gravity pulling your airway closed. The short-term suffocation that occurs produces stress on the body, which can result in health issues such as memory loss, mood change, weight gain, fatigue, and hypertension. There are many snoring or sleep apnea alternatives to go with, ranging from airway surgeries like a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, or maxillofacial surgery to the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. You may not be happy with your current solutions. In such instances, you might turn to Gulf Coast Sleep Specialist which serves the Mobile, AL area, to help address the problem. The most common signs and symptoms of adult-onset sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Episodes of interrupted or no breathing during sleep witnessed by another person
  • Abrupt awakenings or gasping for air
  • Restless sleep or jerky leg movements (or "Jimmy legs") while sleeping
  • Waking up with dry mouth
  • A sore throat that indicates mouth breathing
  • Morning headaches
  • An excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • A lack of daytime concentration
  • Irritability, depression, anxiety, attention problems, and/or overall moodiness
  • Grinding teeth
  • Impotence in men
  • Loss of libido in women
  • Vision loss
  • Glaucoma

At Gulf Coast Sleep Specialist in Mobile, AL, we focus on creating customized night guards to help our sleep apnea patients. Dr. Steven Todd is proud to provide this simple, comfy, and reliable service to help you achieve better health and wellness.

Sleep Apnea Screening



Coinciding with the increase in obesity in the United States, more people are developing type II diabetes. Research indicates that blood sugar (glucose) levels are higher among people with OSA. However, the medical community is seeing a trend of improving blood sugar levels in patients receiving treatment.


Hypertension is a common chronic medical condition in more than 40% of people between the ages of 50 – 60 in the United States. OSA is a risk factor for the development of hypertension. Approximately half of the adults diagnosed with sleep apnea have hypertension. In fact, elevated blood pressure might be the only clue that a person has OSA. Fortunately, the treatment of OSA may result in better control or a resolution in hypertension issues.


Having a stroke can be a devastating event that can lead to a potentially severe disability or death. OSA might be a risk factor for having a stroke, and recovery after a stroke might take more time for people with sleep apnea. Conversely, people who have had a stroke are more at risk of developing OSA.

Fatigue & Sleepiness

The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible. Patients with sleep apnea often experience severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue, and irritability. They may have difficulty concentrating or falling asleep at work, watching TV, or even when driving. This causes an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents for the person not feeling rested or alert. Many bed partners of people who snore are sleep deprived as well.

Heart Problems

Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during the night increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. Many OSA patients develop high blood pressure (hypertension), which can increase their risk of heart disease. As the severity of the apnea increases for the patient, the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke become greater.

Eye Problems

The research of glaucoma and sleep apnea is ongoing in both medical communities. Ophthalmologists are studying the intraocular pressure (IOP) changes within the eye during sleep apnea episodes. Patients with glaucoma have increased IOP, which can damage the eye's optic nerve. Severe damage to the optic nerve can lead to blindness. Researchers are also studying if there is just not enough oxygen in the blood (during the time the patient stops breathing in his or her sleep) that cause problems in the eye.

Sleep-deprived partners

Loud snoring can keep loved ones around you from getting good rest. This may eventually lead to a disruption in relationships. Some partners may choose to sleep in another bedroom because of the throaty snores, noise, and movement from the random gasping for air. Some patients also have a need to urinate frequently at night (nocturia), and this disturbance can wake up a partner as well.

Memory & Mental Health

People who do not sleep well, regardless of their level of OSA, will not function as well as others who get quality sleep. Patients diagnosed with OSA often complain of memory problems, lack of concentration, and inability to focus because of fatigue. The mental health of patients with OSA can also suffer silently because of mood swings and feelings of depression.


Sufficient sleep is an important modulator of weight management and decreases the risk of diabetes and insulin resistance. When a person does not get ample sleep, the appetite-inducing hormone ghrelin increases in the bloodstream, making us feel hungrier during the day. At the same time, leptin, the hormone that satiates our hunger, decreases when we do not get enough sleep. These hormones are sending mixed signals causing the person to be hungrier when sleep is needed. This hormone cycle also sets up the craving to eat more, especially carbohydrates.

Atrial Fibrillation

Untreated sleep apnea can cause the heart to function improperly and develop atrial fibrillation (or AFib). Millions of Americans are living with AFib and undiagnosed sleep apnea, which will present as an irregular heartbeat. This may not seem like a big deal, but AFib can cause blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and more.

Sexual Dysfunction

Impotence in men and loss of libido in women are sexual dysfunctions that occur when certain hormone levels in their body decrease. Sleep apnea can be a drag on your love life. Getting a good night's sleep is best for your whole body.


Low oxygen levels in the blood initiate the widening of blood vessels in the head and can cause vascular headaches. Along with excessive daytime drowsiness, headaches are usually the main symptoms that sleep apnea sufferers complain about the most.

Teeth Grinding

Grinding your teeth while sleeping is an overlooked symptom of OSA. When the brain is signaling it needs more oxygen, the mouth will position itself to open the airway. This is a survival mechanism your brain uses to tell the body to breathe, which is good in a way. However, sleep apnea suffers are still grinding and damaging their teeth and jaw joints, waking up repeatedly throughout the night, keeping others awake, and other complications.

sleep apnea risk factors

  • Excess weight. People who are obese have four times the risk of sleep apnea than people who are a normal weight. Fat deposits around your upper airway may obstruct your breathing. But not everyone who has sleep apnea is overweight.
  • Neck circumference. People with thicker necks may have narrower airways. For men, the risk increases if neck circumference is 17 inches or larger. In women, the risk increases if neck circumference is 15 inches or larger.
  • A narrowed airway. You may have inherited a naturally narrow throat. Or, tonsils or adenoids may become enlarged and block the airway, particularly in children with sleep apnea.
  • Being male. Men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea. However, women increase their risk if they are overweight. Women’s risk also appears to rise after menopause.
  • Being older. Sleep apnea occurs significantly more often in older adults.
  • Family history. If you have family members with sleep apnea, you may be at increased risk.
  • Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers. These substances relax the muscles in your throat.
  • Smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are people who have never smoked.

                                         CLASSIFICATIONS OF OSA (OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA)

                             OBSTRUCTED AIRWAY                                                        NORMAL AIRWAY




SDB describes a number of breathing disorders that occur during sleep


  • A partial or complete collapse of the upper airway caused by relaxation of the muscles controlling the soft palate and tongue
  • Person experiences apneas, hypopneas and flow limitation

     - Apnea: A cessation of airflow for >10 seconds

     - Hypopnea: A decrease in airflow lasting >10 seconds with a 30% oxygen reduction in airflow with at least a          4% oxygen desaturation from baseline

     - Flow limitation: Narrowing of the upper airway and an indication of an impending upper airway closure


Apnea – hyponea index (AHI)

  • Number of apneas and/or hypopneas per hour of sleep (or study time)
  • Reflects the severity of Sleep Apnea
  • AHI: < 5 Normal Range
  • AHI: 5 to < 15 Significant
  • AHI: 15 – 30 Very Significant
  • AHI: > 30 Severe Sleep Apnea

What To Expect

Sleep apnea treatment with Dr. Todd at Gulf Coast Sleep Specialist utilizes what is referred to as oral appliance therapy (OAT), which can be quite an effective therapy for sleep apnea. It is a custom-made device that fits in your mouth at night. It can be compared to a mouth guard for sporting events or a retainer. The most important difference is that instead of guarding your teeth against harm, it gently pulls the jaw into a forward position to keep your airway open. There are more than a hundred distinct models on the market, so Dr. Todd will work with you to make sure to get the right one for you. This may be determined after he conducts an assessment of your jaw, tongue, airway, and teeth.


Once your dental appliance has been created at a high-tech dental lab, you will return to our office for a fitting. Gulf Coast Sleep Specialist will contact you to set up a follow-up appointment. Dr. Todd will fit and adjust it according to your requirements to get it as comfortable as possible. He will make sure to allow ample time to help you learn about your new snoring/sleep apnea device including how to clean, store, and maintain it. Dr. Todd will want you to bring your mouthpiece to check-ups or come back every year to have it examined for wear and tear. Your quality of life should dramatically improve if you follow our instructions properly.

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Know The Symptoms

If your breathing was interrupted hundreds of times every day while you were awake, from a blocked airway, you would look for help right away. When the same thing happens in your sleep, it may be all too easy to put off as you won't remember it when you wake up. If you believe you may be suffering from sleep apnea, we invite you to schedule a consultation at Gulf Coast Sleep Specialist at your earliest convenience.


*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.