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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.



Diabetes can be a debilitating disease on many levels including dentally. A well managed diabetic will have better outcomes over the long term to live a healthier life. Recent studies have shown a relationship between obstrucitve sleep apnea and diabetes control.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea affects almost 25% of the population and is a characterized by repeated stops and starts in breathing during sleep. The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which occurs when your throat muscles intermittently relax. When relaxed they block your airway during sleep. The most obvious sign is snoring while sleeping. Obstructive sleep apnea most commonly affects middle-aged or older adult males, smokers, and people who are overweight or obese.

Obstructive sleep apnea treatment usually involves using an oral appliance to keep your airway open or using a mouthpiece to thrust your jaw forward during sleep.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

-Age. As we age there is a muscular and neurological loss of muscle tone of the upper airway. This can also be caused by alcohol and sedative medications.

-Weight. The most typical individual with OSA syndrome suffers from obesity (particularly in the face and neck region). However, obesity is not always present with obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, a significant number of adults with normal body mass indices (BMIs) have decreased muscle tone causing airway collapse and sleep apnea. The cause of this is not well understood.

-Genetics. Those with a family history of Sleep Apnea are more likely to develop it themselves.

-Smoking. The chemical irritants in smoking tend to cause the soft tissue of the upper airway to become inflamed. This can result in a narrowing of the upper airway.

Diabetes and Sleep Apnea Link

The researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada found that treatment of sleep apnea led to significant improvements in glucose levels following an oral glucose challenge without affecting insulin secretion. This suggests an improvement in the sensitivity of insulin. The study followed 39 patients with sleep apnea and a prediabetes diagnosis. These 39 subjects were randomized to either recieve 2 weeks of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or a placebo pill. All patients were tested for oral glucose tolerance prior to and after treatment. This gives researchers an idea of each subject’s ability to use glucose. Following the two week study, the researchers were able to conclude that sleep apnea treatment may lower the risk for prediabetic patients. They also recommend an assessment for sleep apnea for all patients with prediabetes.

Conclusion

While further research is needed this is an important landmark piece of research. Diabetes is a disease that can be avoided for many of us. If sleep apnea goes undiagnosed it may be contributing to the diabetic condition. If properly managed, it could keep a patient out of the danger zone of a full diabetes state. While no definitive link is reported in these studies it does show there is a correlation between sleep and how our body handles glucose.