Sleep Apnea Can Affect Anyone .. Even World-Class Athletes

  • October 27, 2016
Sleep Apnea Can Affect Anyone .. Even World-Class Athletes

As your leading Oregon City dentist, I’m dedicated to resolving dental problems that will affect your overall health. One area I have studied extensively is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a problem that can spur issues like stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease. It’s even fatal if it’s left untreated.

Not a lot of my new patients know about the dangers of sleep apnea. That’s the case across the country. That’s why I was shocked when I heard a mention of sleep apnea during one of the world’s biggest sporting events. I turned on the World Series to watch the Cubs and Indians battle for baseball’s most coveted prize. During the broadcast, one of the on-field reporters did a story on Mike Napoli, the Cleveland Indians’ slugger. The story had nothing to do with Napoli’s on-field performance or the fact that he was playing in his third World Series. Rather, the story was about sleep apnea.

Napoli was a long-time sufferer of sleep apnea. His sleep condition was so severe that he would wake up 50 to 100 times every night. He even stopped dreaming (He woke up so frequently that his body never went into REM) The side effects of this spilled over in his personal and professional life. He’d come to the ballpark exhausted and had trouble keeping up with his teammates. The problem affected him so much that he considered retiring from baseball in his early 30s. He was clearly at his wit’s end. Napoli tried medication, CPAP machines, and an oral appliance. Nothing worked. It turns out that his sleep apnea was so severe that he needed surgery to fix the problem. The doctors were able to open up his airways and get him breathing normal again. According to the report, now he’s back to sleeping eight hours a night. He doesn’t feel exhausted throughout the day, and he’s back to dreaming again.

While sleep apnea affects about 18 million Americans, most are not severe. Most sleep apnea sufferers can also be helped with a CPAP or oral appliance and do not need surgery, which is extremely invasive. Sleep apnea is divided into two categories: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tissues and muscles in the throat close the airway during sleep, while central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals to your body to breath during sleep. Men are at a higher risk of sleep apnea, but the condition can affect women and even children.

You might face a higher risk of sleep apnea if you:
• Have a family history of sleep apnea
• Are a man with a neck size larger than 17 inches or a women with a neck size larger than 16 inches.
• Are overweight
• Smoke or use alcohol
• Have a history of heart disorder

Our Oregon City dental office, Pioneer Dental Group, we’re experts i accessing your sleep apnea and providing life-changing solutions that fit in with your lifestyle. I work with a qualified sleep physician who can accurately diagnose your sleep problems. The sleep study is necessary because it allows us to see how you react to the treatments.

Our office has had success treating patients who have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. We can do this by using a custom nightguard that moves the lower jaw forward, keeping the airways open during sleep. The custom appliance is not invasive, and in many cases, a great alternative to the CPAP machine. The CPAP is a great tool, but the compliance rate is only about 50 percent, and patients find it uncomfortable.

Later this week, I’ll have some more information about the dangers of untreated sleep apnea. If you are a snorer or find yourself waking up and gasping for air, you need to call our office for a consultation. Please don’t risk your overall health. New patients can reach us at 503-388-4691 or use the appointment form to request an appointment.

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