Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the new buzz word in medicine and dentistry, and has recently hit home for me as I adjust to my new CPAP machine. Although I’ve always known I was prone to snoring (my skeletal anatomy doesn’t leave me with a large airway space), I really didn’t think sleep apnea would ever be an issue for me.
OSA is when a person has intermittent periods of time that he stops breathing, and that pattern is repeated through the night. My symptons weren’t severe or even very obvious, but I just had this “feeling” that I should be checked. Symptoms of OSA include chronic fatique, even after what should have been a good night sleep; weight gain – doesn’t have to a lot; dry mouth in the morning; and occasionally waking up gasping for air or snoring – most people don’t wake up enough to know there is a problem. As it turned out, my ambulatory sleep study showed an exceptionally high number of apneic episodes. I had no idea it was so bad!
About the same time I was being evaluated for my own issues, I attended the annual Dental Sleep Medicine Conference that was being held here in Seattle. I experienced more “ah ah” moments in one weekend than ever before. The medical lectures associated with the sleep disorders (the primary one being OSA) was as fascinating as it was alarming. Chronic sleep deprivation over the years leads to hypertension (elevated blood pressure), obesity, an increased risk of diabetes, chronic fatique and a myriad of detrimental health conditions. All in all it was an amazing course and, having a personal interest, I absorbed a large amount of information quickly.
If any of you think that you or someone you love may be showing signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea ask me about it next time we see each other. There is nothing like a good night sleep to make your day brighter!