Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Can Bananas Really Help Your Sleep Apnea?

One of the things you have to understand about sleep apnea information that's available on the Internet is that sometimes stories get passed around with little or no actual research. People are looking to fill up blogs with ideas they think will bring traffic, and may skim through pages and pages of search results in their quest for something to write about. Once one person finds something a little off the beaten path, other people will find it more easily and copy it, often without any critical consideration of the statement.

Consider, for example, the case of bananas and sleep apnea. In late march, one sleep apnea blog reported that bananas could help cure sleep apnea. The next day, another blog reported the same thing, using different words, but offering no additional information. Then in April a couple more blogs pop up touting the benefits of bananas for sleep apnea, and now that we're in May it seems that even more people are promoting this fruit for sleep apnea. It sounds good and rational: eat a banana to improve your sleep apnea. However, is it true?

The source of the story is a 2009 news report on the research of a professor at the University of New England in New South Wales. The research was being reported at a conference in Darwin, and the Northern Territory News outlet covered it. The professor's research showed that phospholipids in bananas could stick to the throat for up to six hours, and that they would reduce surface tension and may help to keep the throat open. In the words of researcher Dr. Tom van der Touw, "Our initial findings suggest that bananas may offer a relatively cheap and tasty alternative as part of the treatment for patients with obstructive sleep apnoea." Although the research was presented at the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, they do not seem to have panned out in any measurable way. Dr. Van der Touw has not published any further results from the study.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious, life-threatening condition, and it's important that you receive effective sleep apnea treatment to avoid an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and other causes of premature death. Don't listen to folk methods and rumors. Instead, contact a local sleep dentist to learn about effective sleep apnea treatments.

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posted by Dr. Candelaria at 2:05 PM