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Obstructive sleep apnea can be a silent killer. It is a disease that is often not diagnosed properly for a long time and can have some serious side effects that can effect the quality of our lives. Sleep apnea is caused by the muscles in your throat relaxing too much and closing, preventing air from entering your lungs, hence the use of “obstructive” in the name of the disorder.

There is a rarer form of sleep apnea called central sleep apnea. This is only found in approximately 5% of all sleep apnea cases. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send the proper signals to open and close your airways while you are sleeping.

Complications Of Sleep Apnea

-Cardiac Issues / High Blood Pressure. Sleep apnea patients will experience a sudden drop in blood oxygen levels when sleeping. This sudden drop can place a strain on the entire cardiovascular system. The incidence of high blood pressure is much higher in those with sleep apnea over those who do not. The more severe the sleep apnea the higher the risk of high blood pressure. Sleep apnea also increases the risk of stroke, increased risk for atrial fibrillation, and congestive heart failure. Central sleep apnea is not known to cause heart issues but to develop following heart issues.

Focus Issues / Fatigue. People with sleep apnea often experience daytime fatigue, irritability, and depression. This occurs because patients suffering from sleep apnea will have abnormal sleep rhythms due to the repeated awakening from lack of oxygen to the brain. Children with sleep apnea will often do poorly at school or have behavior issues.

-Eye Issues. Research has shown that sleep apnea can cause optic nerve swelling and glaucoma. Luckily, once the sleep apnea is properly diagnosed and treated thses issues usually go away.

-Possible Surgical Complications. Research has shown that people with sleep apnea may be more likely to experience complications following major surgery. This is  because they are prone to breathing problems, especially when sedated and lying on their backs. Undiagnosed sleep apnea is especially risky in this situation. It is important to let your doctor know in advance of surgery if you have sleep apnea.

Sexual Dysfunction. Studies have shown that men suffering from sleep apnea have a higher incidence of erectile dysfunction. As mentioned previously, lack of oxygen puts a strain on the entire vascular system and this includes blood flow to the sex organs.

Liver Issues. Research has also shown that people suffering from sleep apnea are more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests, and their livers are more likely to show signs of scarring.

Other complications can include diabetes, obesity, headaches, and high risk pregnancies.

Tips To Overcoming Sleep Apnea

Lose Weight. Being overweight is a known risk factor of obstructive sleep apnea. Not every sleep apnea patient is overweight but many are. A small amount of weight loss can improve a person’s sleep apnea to the point of curing a person’s sleep apnea.

Develop Regular Sleep Patterns. We all need sleep to function and stay healthy. Regular sleep is especially important for those with sleep apnea. A good option for many is the use of a CPAP machine or a Tap II dental appliance. These allow for the airway to stay open alleviating the breakup of sleep during the night.

Researchers have found that about 50% of the people with sleep apnea have most of their breathing issues while sleeping on their backs. People with sleep apnea should consider sleeping in other positions.

Regular Exercise. Getting just 30 minutes of moderate activity 3-4 days of the week may help ease obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.

Care For Allergies. Many people suffering from seasonal allergies just “deal” with them. This will only exacerbate the sleep apnea issue as a stuffy nose will make sleeping even more difficult. If you have sleep apnea and nasal allergies, be sure your allergies are under control. Use of a nasal spray (saline) before bed may also help.

-Avoid Alcohol And Sleeping Pills. Both of these are relaxants. This will lead to a relaxation of the muscles of the throat and tongue leading to increased sleep apnea symptoms.

-Quit Smoking. Smoking will worsen obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Conclusion

If you are suspicious you have sleep apnea it is imperative you get yourself checked by a physician or even your dentist. It is an often overlooked disorder that can carry some life changing complications.



Sleep apnea is known as the silent killer. Most are totally unaware they have an issue until major symptoms appear. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that about 20 million Americans have sleep apnea, but around 90 percent may not know it.Fatigue, high blood pressure and weight gain are some of its more well known symptoms. Sleep apnea occurs when the tongue, tonsils, or other throat tissue blocks the airway, stopping breathing. Sleep apnea is often misunderstood regarding its risks and possible treatments. Recent studies should give alarm to men and women as untreated sleep apnea can lead to erectile dysfunction in men and loss of libido in women.

The Cause?

It is believed that the sex hormones (like testosterone) are the culprit. It is well known that testosterone levels rise and fall depending on amount of sleep a person has. More sleep equals higher levels of testosterone and less sleep equals a lowering in testosterone. Since sleep apnea disrupts sleep, it is believed to directly affect the sex hormones and the result is sexual dysfunction.

Recent studies have followed women and men to discover the correlation between sleep apnea and sex hormones. Multiple studies have found that  the sleep apnea patients had significantly higher rates of sexual dysfunction. In fact for men almost 70% of sleep apnea sufferers had some form of erectile dysfunction (non sleep apnea sufferers were in the 30% range).

Can Sexual Dysfunction And Sleep Apnea Be Overcome?

The researchers also found that with treatment many overcame their sexual dysfunction. Unfortunately for some, it did not go away with sleep apnea treatment. Researchers believe this is because of overlapping symptoms between the two. Both conditions are associated with age, high blood pressure, and diabetes, which may blur the true relationship between sleep apnea and sexual dysfunction. So at this time researchers are unsure of the direct link and more research will be needed.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Sleep apnea needs to be diagnosed by a physician usually in a sleep clinic. Some  of the possible treatments include:

At Home Treatment. Mild cases of sleep apnea can be treated at home with lifestyle changes. These changes can include:

  • Weight Loss.
  • Avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills.
  • Modifying sleep position to improve breathing. Avoid sleeping on your back.
  • Quitting smoking. Smoking can increase the swelling in the upper airway, which may worsen sleep apnea and snoring.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). This treatment utilizes a mask worn over the mouth and nose while you sleep. The mask is attached to a special machine that delivers air continuously into the nose. The constant air flow keeps the airway open so regular breathing can be maintained. Continuous positive airway pressure — also called CPAP — is a treatment in which a mask is worn over the nose and/or mouth while you sleep. The mask is hooked up to a machine that delivers a continuous flow of air into the nose. This air flow helps keep the airways open so that breathing is regular. CPAP is considered by many experts to be the most effective treatment for sleep apnea. Unfortunately many patients do not follow through with this treatment (about 1/4 to 1/2).

Dental Appliance. Specially designed dental appliances can keep the airway open during sleep as well. An excellent example is the TAP appliance (Thornton Adjustable Positioner). The TAP holds the lower jaw in a forward position so that it does not fall open during the night and cause the airway to collapse. This appliance is able to maintain a clear airway to reduce snoring and improve breathing. The unique design gives the patient the ability to fine-tune his/her treatment at home and work with the dentist to achieve the best possible outcome. Patients are empowered to manage the degree of lower jaw protrusion over as many nights as it takes to achieve the optimal treatment position. The TAP is simple to use with a single point of central adjustment, which prevents uneven bilateral adjustment that can create an irregular bite and discomfort.

The TAP has shown to successful over 95% of the time. It is the key to a snore-free, restful night of sleep. This appliance gives the ability to treat sleep apnea without the need for surgery, a mask, or medication. The TAP is known as a leader in oral appliances for snoring and sleep apnea and is currently prescribed by thousands of dentists worldwide to treat snoring and sleep apnea. It is also the most researched oral appliances on the market with over 30 independent peer reviewed published studies. A simple dental examination is necessary to know if the patient will be able to use an oral appliance for sleep apnea treatment.

Surgery for Sleep Apnea. For patients with a deviated nasal septum, enlarged tonsils, or a small lower jaw with an overbite causing the throat to be too narrow, surgery may be the right option to correct sleep apnea.

The most commonly performed types of surgery for sleep apnea include:

-Nasal surgery: Correction of nasal problems such as a deviated septum.

-Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): This procedure removes soft tissue on the back of the throat and palate, allowing for an increase in the width of the airway at the opening of the throat.

-Mandibular maxillar advancement surgery: Surgery to correct certain facial problems or throat obstructions that contribute to sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Conclusion

The important thing to note that diagnosis and treatment are the key here to overcome most of the issues associated with sleep apnea. Without treatment, the quality of life will quickly decrease. If you suspect you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, please consult your dentist or physician immediately before it is too late.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) – or more commonly referred to as male impotency. Male Impotency is a sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual activity.

Recent scientific studies have shown that men with advanced periodontal disease (also called periodontitis) are at a higher risk for erectile dysfunction. The same study also says young men under age 30 are at risk as well. The study was based on approximately 33,000 men with erectile dysfunction and then randomly selected another group of men without erectile dysfunction. About 12% of the participants had advanced periodontal disease. This group with advanced periodontal disease included about 27% of the men with erectile dysfunction and about 9% of those without erectile dysfunction issues. The study lasted for five years.

This particular research study found advanced periodontal disease was much higher among the men with erectile dysfunction than those without. After taking into account other lifestyle factors (example, income level and pre existing medical conditions) the researchers found periodontal disease was still linked to erectile dysfunction.  This was  especially the case in men younger than 30 and those older than 70.

The study did not show or prove that advanced periodontal disease causes erectile dysfunction. But it does show that an association between the two does exist. One theory as to why the link exists is that both are likely caused by inflammatory processes in the body. The Periodontal disease process is directly linked to the inflammatory process in the gum tissues and bone, and has been found to be linked to heart disease,vascular disease (damage to blood vessels), pregnancy issues, and other overall health problems. Researchers believe the same inflammatory process is affecting sexual function. The inflammatory process is systemic (throughout the body) and is thought to be causing damage to the vessels supplying the penis.

While these results are far from set in stone they tell a tale of a link between the inflammatory breakdown in advanced periodontal disease and erectile dysfunction. So this means, it is doubly important for men of all ages and not just the ones mentioned in the study to maintain their dental hygiene to not only maintain their teeth and gums but also to maintain their sexual function. Luckily for us, periodontal disease is very treatable. Periodontitis and advanced periodontitis are very preventable. Brush your teeth, floss and schedule routine dental visits to keep your gums and teeth healthy. While the linkage between periodontal disease and erectile dysfunction requires more research at this very early stage, it would be wise to think of full body health and do all that you can to guard against preventable illness.