What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea Treatment in Lake in the Hills

What exactly is sleep apnea? This condition occurs when a patient’s breathing during rest ceases for ten or more seconds. These pauses may be brief, but they can repeat dozens, even hundreds of times every night. There are two main types of sleep apnea: central sleep apnea (CSA) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). CSA occurs when the brain simply fails to send a signal to the patient’s brain for them to inhale and exhale, while OSA takes place when breathing cannot occur because of a partial or full blockage in the patient’s airway. Some patients may even experience a combination of CSA and OSA.

Sadly, there are so many possible symptoms for sleep apnea that a wide majority of cases (around 80%) are either not diagnosed or diagnosed incorrectly. Some of the most common indications include the following:

  • Chronic, excessively loud snoring
  • Morning headaches
  • Morning sore throat and/or dry mouth
  • Constant feelings of fatigue and exhaustion during daytime hours
  • Difficulty with concentration and/or memory
  • Mood swings
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Regularly waking up and having to gasp for air


If you suspect that you’re suffering from sleep apnea, the first step to regaining the quality rest you desperately need is for your case to be correctly diagnosed. At Sleep Better Illinois, we recommend completing the STOP-BANG quiz. By truthfully answering a short series of “yes or no” questions, Dr. Tim Stirneman and the rest of our team can have a clear indication of whether or not further intervention is required. A sleep study at a professional lab may be in order. Once we’re aware of the severity of your condition and the cause of your sleep apnea (whether it’s CSA or OSA), the process of planning out your treatment will begin.

If you’re suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, oral appliance therapy could be the best solution for your condition. In fact, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends oral appliance therapy as the first course of action for patients dealing with chronic snoring and/or mild to moderate OSA. If your case of OSA or CSA is severe, CPAP therapy or a combination of CPAP and oral appliance therapy may be the more effective choice.


  • Adults who receive 7-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis each night should not be experiencing daytime fatigue.
  • Studies show that sleep apnea/sleep deprivation can negatively affect a person’s memory in similar ways when compared to drug addition, Alcoholism, and Alzheimer’s.
  • Patients who snore on a regular basis have a much higher risk of developing sleep apnea over time, even if they don’t currently suffer from it. Treatment with a customized oral appliance can help prevent this and the health risks associated with it.
  • Many patients who suffer from sleep apnea mistakenly believe that they are experiencing insomnia.
  • Sleep apnea patients are more likely to be obese and struggle with both losing weight and keeping weight off.
  • Research has revealed that around 80% of patients with sleep apnea  are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed entirely. An even greater percentage of cases are left untreated.
  • Daytime exhaustion raises a person’s risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident by more than 15 times. When tested, fatigued participants had a higher chance of experiencing an accident than inebriated participants.
  • Sleep apnea is one of the most common causes for erectile and/or general sexual dysfunction.
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism) is a common indicator of sleep apnea.
  • Patients with untreated sleep apnea are at risk of having a significantly shortened lifespan. In fact, a majority of these people don’t live past the age of 55.
  • The size of a patient’s neck and/or tongue can indicate their risk for developing sleep apnea over time.
  • Patients who routinely use the bathroom throughout the night may be suffering from sleep apnea.


One of the clearest indications of developing sleep apnea is snoring. Snoring occurs in the same way as speaking, singing, and laughter – air is vibrating against your mouth, throat, and tongue. While a minor blockage of your airway may not result in significantly hindered breathing, patients often still struggle with inhaling and exhaling properly. Over time, this blockage can become more severe and manifest into an actual case of sleep apnea.

If you’re a chronic snorer but aren’t a victim of sleep apnea just yet, Dr. Stirneman is likely to still recommend oral appliance therapy. This can help prevent the future development of sleep apnea associated health concerns like heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, and more.


For many years, CPAP has been considered the ideal solution to sleep apnea, and for patients with severe OSA or CSA, it can still be the best option available to them. However, CPAP intolerance is a very real and widespread problem. This system utilizes a mask that fits over the mouth and/or nose and forces air into the patient’s lungs. The bulkiness and loud noises of the machine are difficult to become accustomed to, and many patients are unable to do so, which results in them going without treatment. If you suffer from chronic snoring, mild to moderate sleep apnea, or an intolerance to CPAP treatment, oral appliance therapy from Dr. Tim Stirneman is the best alternative. Our team will create a customized nightguard that’s designed to comfortably reposition the jaw during sleep, helping patients maintain an open airway as they rest. These appliances are sturdy, easily removable, simple to clean, and convenient for storage and transportation purposes. Most patients are able to achieve much higher levels of compliance with oral appliance therapy.


In most cases, a patient’s medical insurance will cover the cost of oral appliance therapy. Recently, dental insurance plans have also started to include benefits for this kind of treatment. Our Lake in the Hills staff will be happy to work with you to maximize your available coverage and file the necessary paperwork. Patients from Village of Lakewood and surrounding areas are encouraged to contact us today and schedule a complimentary consultation!

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