Monday, February 23, 2009

Losing Weight May Be Best Route to Curing Sleep Apnea

Although the connection between obesity and sleep apnea is not fully understood, doctors suggest that the best cure for sleep apnea may be weight loss. In a published response to a question about sleep apnea, Mayo Clinic researcher Virend Somers M.D., Ph.D, said that weight loss was the best way to approach a sleep apnea problem.

The doctor first pointed out, as we have discussed, that weight gain contributed to obstructive sleep apnea by placing additional weight on the airway during sleep. However, he also noted that being overweight affects the nerve signals from the brain to the airway. The result is that the muscles in the airway lose tone and become flaccid, which makes them less able to keep the airway open, especially when relaxed during sleep. Interestingly, no one knows why the signals change. Some point to the hormone leptin (you can read more about the correlation between sleep apnea and leptin levels in this blog), saying that too much leptin could affect breathing control.

Because of this twofold contribution of being overweight to sleep apnea, it certainly seems that weight loss as part of a comprehensive program of behavioral therapy is a good first step. At the very least, losing weight will probably reduce the volume and frequency of snoring, and it may reduce severe sleep apnea to a moderate level that can be controlled with oral appliance therapy as opposed to the less convenient CPAP.

If you would like to learn more about the best approaches for tackling your sleep apnea, schedule a sleep apnea consultation at the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment Center in Gurnee, Illinois.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sleep Apnea Affects Blood Flow in the Brain

The team that discovered sleep apnea sufferers were three times more likely to have a stroke or die than non-sufferers has been attempting to determine the mechanism responsible for increased stroke likelihood and they have located a good candidate. According to their recent study published in the December 2008 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology, the ability of the brain to regulate its blood flow, what might be called cerebrovascular autoregulation (although the study architects use the slightly less precise cerebral autoregulation), seems to be decreased.

Specifically, the researchers used Doppler ultrasound to measure blood flow velocity in the brain and compared it with blood pressure and CO2 saturation. The study shows that patients with obstructive sleep apnea had a lower velocity of blood flow in their brains at all times. In addition, the brains of sleep apnea sufferers seem slower to recover following changes in blood pressure. However, the brains of sleep apnea sufferers did seem to respond adequately to increases in CO2 saturation.

Researchers speculate that lower blood velocity and compensatory mechanisms in sleep apnea sufferers may make them more susceptible to ischemic stroke. Ischemic stroke is caused by blood clots that become lodged in the brain, depriving part of the brain of oxygen.

Stroke is just one of the most severe of the risks faced by sleep apnea sufferers. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, oral appliance therapy can reduce the number of apneic events you suffer and dramatically reduce the level of your risk. To learn more, schedule a sleep apnea consultation at the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment Center in Gurnee, Illinois today.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment for Couples

Valentine's Day is the American obligatory celebrate your relationship holiday. But if your significant other is a snorer, you may not feel like celebrating. Snoring and sleep apnea can reduce the amount and quality of sleep for both partners, and reduced sleep and increased resentment both negatively affect the level of intimacy couples enjoy. So if your relationship is being affected by snoring and sleep apnea, here are some ways you can try to treat it and improve your relationship.

Weight gain is one of the most common causes of snoring in men, who tend to deposit fat reserves in the throat, leading to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. It is also rarely a problem for just one partner. Maybe this Valentine's Day it is time to make a commitment to health together and begin dieting and exercising together.

Smoking inflames the nasal and throat tissues. If you or your partner smokes, quitting can really help reduce the amount of snoring.

Allergies have a similar effect as smoking on the tissue of the nose and throat. If you have a high level of allergens in the home, instituting more regular vacuuming, dusting, etc can help. You might also consider changing pillows if one of you is allergic to down, and some people are allergic to certain components of laundry detergents, so switching to a hypoallergenic brand may help.

Alcohol leads to increased relaxation of the throat muscles which contributes to the severity of obstructive sleep apnea. So try to cut down on alcohol consumption, something that is easier as a couple.

If the above behavioral therapy methods do not solve your problem it is important to recognize that there are many risks associated with sleep apnea and seek professional help. Sleep apnea diagnosis followed by CPAP or oral appliance therapy can help you both sleep and ensure your happily ever after is a lot longer.

If your partner is a snorer and this is affecting your relationship, schedule a snoring consultation at the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sleep Disordered Breathing Independently Correlated to Insulin Sensitivity

There are many links between sleep apnea, diabetes, and obesity, but now it turns out that one of the important causes of type 2 diabetes, decreased insulin sensitivity, is independently associated with the severity of sleep disordered breathing (SDB) such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. According to a study published this month in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, reductions in insulin sensitivity had a strong correlation with the degree of SDB, independent of age, sex, race, and percent of body fat. In addition, people with moderate to severe SDB had decreased pancreatic β-cell function, meaning that their pancreas was producing less insulin.

According to the study, those with mild, moderate, and severe SDB had a reduction in insulin sensitivity of 26.7, 36.5, and 43.7 %, respectively. In addition, the reductions in insulin sensitivity and the decrease in pancreatic β-cell function were both correlated to reductions in blood-oxygen saturation. And glucose effectiveness was negatively correlated with the frequency of apneic events. Glucose effectiveness is the measure of glucose disposal independent of insulin function, such as through the liver and other methods of filtering it from the bloodstream. This may be an early sign of an effect discussed in another paper published in the same issue, which notes that liver disease in obese patients may be increased by sleep apnea.

By linking SDB to important precursors to type 2 diabetes, the study reaffirms that sleep apnea and snoring are important independent health risks. Although obesity is commonly recognized as a cause of type 2 diabetes, more needs to be done to address the sleep apnea that may be responsible for both obesity and diabetes.

If you suffer from sleep apnea or are a snorer, you may be able to head off type 2 diabetes by receiving treatment. Schedule a snoring and sleep apnea consultation at the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment Center in Gurnee, Illinois today.