Monday, December 22, 2014

Does Sleep Apnea Elevate Dementia Risk?

A study published in the journal Neurology indicates that poor quality rest and low blood oxygen level during sleep could increase the likelihood of diminished mental faculties in older men. Though this research doesn’t establish a causal relationship between sleep apnea and dementia, patients with sleep and breathing disorders could be more at risk of experiencing negative effects on the brain.

Researchers found that the brains of subjects who had sleep apnea showed evidence of atrophied tissue and abnormalities called microinfarcts. These irregularities in the brain are more common in people who develop dementia than those who don’t have the condition.

Dementia is a series of symptoms most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with dementia suffer a severe deterioration of mental capabilities including: 

·         Memory
·         Motor skills
·         Organizational abilities
·         Clear and accurate speech
·         Reasoning and problem solving
·         Navigation – dementia patients can get lost even in very familiar places

Patients who suffer dementia also experience behavioral changes. The decline in mental clarity can lead to emotional outbursts, sudden mood swings, and irritability.

Obviously, dementia is a sign of a major health issue. Sleep apnea is also a dangerous condition because of the impact gaps in breathing can have on multiple systems in the body, including the brain.

If you suspect you or a family member is suffering from sleep apnea, please contact a local specialist or call 1 (866) 727-6275 (1-8-NO-PAP-MASK) today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Snoring Treatment With the ‘Tongue Pacemaker’

An estimated 60% of men and 40% of women will be habitual snorers by the time they are 60 years old. For patients in need of snoring treatment, an innovative solution could keep the tongue from blocking the airway, resulting in a healthier night’s sleep for the patient and peaceful rest for those nearby.

Nicknamed the “pacemaker for the tongue,” the hypoglossal nerve stimulator was recently approved by the FDA. Once implanted inside of the chest, the device monitors the patient’s breathing during sleep. If the tongue begins to interfere with breathing, a gentle electric pulse stimulates the tongue to move it out of the airway.

Doctors have praised the “pacemaker” as an improvement on other surgical solutions for snoring and sleep apnea, which permanently make the airways wider but also tend to have a long, often painful recovery. However, surgery might be unnecessary for snoring treatment.

Nonsurgical snoring treatment options include: 

  • Oral appliances that keep the airway open at night
  • Lifestyle changes, including a firmer mattress, altering your position while sleeping, and reducing or avoiding alcohol
  • Modifying your sleep habits by tying a tennis ball to your back – this will keep you from lying on your back, which reduces the intensity of snoring
  • Losing excess weight and keeping it off
Doctors are also enthusiastic about the hypoglossal nerve stimulator because it could be an effective alternative to the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. Though CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea and snoring, many patients find wearing a cumbersome mask too uncomfortable to do overnight every night.

For more information on non-invasive snoring treatment, please contact a local sleep specialist or call 1 (866) 727-6275 (1-8-NO-PAP-MASK) today for a consultation.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Which Gender Is at Greater Risk for Sleep Apnea?

CBS News reports that roughly one-third of all Americans don’t sleep for the recommended seven hours each night. But the data suggest that the reason a man might toss and turn is likely different than a woman’s, and the predisposition to obstructive sleep apnea is a factor.

Men are more likely than women to suffer from sleep apnea. The CBS story attributes the higher risk factor to “anatomical differences,” specifically more neck fat. However, the neck isn’t the only part of the body that could create an obstruction in the airway.

If these structures have higher fat deposits or are consistently enlarged, the likelihood of apnea episodes could be higher:

  • Tongue
  • Tonsils
  • Adenoids
  • Uvula
  • Soft palate
Women can also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. However, this isn’t the leading sleep issue women experience.

Instead, according to the CBS report, women are more likely to experience shorter periods of sleep, as well as higher instances of nighttime insomnia and fatigue the following day. Much of this is attributable to hormone changes.

If you believe you’re at risk for obstructive sleep apnea, or poor quality sleep is affecting your health, please contact an experienced sleep doctor in your community or call 1 (866) 727-6275 (1-8-NO-PAP-MASK) today for a one-on-one evaluation.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sleep Apnea a Major Hazard to Firefighters

Rescue personnel dedicate their lives to saving people who are in danger. But who protects these heroes from the toll the job takes on their physical and mental health? Recent research reveals that nearly 40% of firefighters suffer from sleep apnea or another type of sleep disorder.

These conditions are serious, but that’s not even the worst news. TIME reports that the prevalence of sleep apnea could be linked to the high incidence among firefighters of heart attacks and car accidents, which together represent the majority causes of death within the profession.

An increased risk of heart attack is one of the most serious complications of sleep apnea. The condition also causes extreme fatigue and poor focus, which could account for the high risk of auto collisions.

The TIME article identified other complications firefighters with one or more sleep disorders are at risk for – all of which have been linked to sleep apnea. These include: 

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Mental and emotional health disruptions, including depression and anxiety
Perhaps most alarming of all, 80% of the firefighters who exhibited signs of apnea or other conditions had not been diagnosed or treated for the problem. No matter your age or occupation, sleep apnea needs to be caught and treated early to diminish the impact on your health.

To learn more about sleep apnea, please contact an experienced doctor in your area or call 1 (866) 727-6275 (1-8-NO-PAP-MASK) today.