What Can be Done About Sleep Apnea and Snoring?

Dr. David WilhiteQuestion: My husband snores. What can be done for him?

David Wilhite says:

One of the most underdiagnosed health problems in America is sleep apnea, and it is increasing in frequency and severity due to the increasing obesity of the population.

Apnea can result in many problems such as obesity, heart attack and stroke, fibromyalgia, grinding of teeth, acid reflux, headaches, migraines, high blood pressure, throat problems and low testosterone.

Most of these problems are associated with inflammation and/or stress hormones.

The symptoms that the patient notices are snoring, sleepiness, heartburn, headaches, migraines, and lack of dreams.

Related: What Can be Done About TMJ Headaches and Migraines

Many children have sleep problems that can produce behavior problems and ADHD.

Dentists are in a unique position to notice the signs of sleep problems because we are always looking in the mouth.

Some of the signs are bony overgrowths of the jaws, evidence of clenching and grinding, a scalloped tongue, a red and irritated throat, and a high vaulted palate, to name a few.

The next step is to get a sleep test to determine the severity of the sleep disorder.

If the medically diagnosed disorder is severe sleep apnea, then the CPAP is the gold standard for treatment. However, if the apnea is either mild or moderate or if the patient is CPAP intolerant then a dental device, sometimes called a snore guard, may be used very successfully.

The typical patient with sleep-disordered breathing is an overweight male over 50 years old, but young, fit females can also have sleep problems. The young females can have what is known as Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). They typically present with complaints of headaches, migraines, and TMJ symptoms caused by clenching and grinding. A number of them will have fibromyalgia caused by heightened levels of inflammation.

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Additional Sleep Apnea Information:

Sleep Apnea – Mayo Clinic

Sleep Apnea Symptoms – National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute