I’m giving that patient a DUI citation next time he comes in! This is what I am thinking of telling folks who come see me as a new patient and I see them yawning, there are circles under their eyes, and they look like they have not slept in weeks. Well, as it turns out, they probably have not had good, high quality sleep in years. Unfortunately, the effects of sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing -SDB- tend to catch up with us so slowly, that by the time we ‘get there’ it is often late in the game. What I mean by all this is that SDB problems creep up very slowly on us and we pay a big price later on. At first, it’s just a little trouble falling asleep so we sleep in on the weekends to compensate for this. Then, our spouse notices that we are snoring here and there. Then the restless legs kick in (get the pun?) Then one day the spouse notices the outright gasping for breath or the total stoppage in breathing (this is the real serious stuff folks- being just about dead cannot be very healthy!)
So if you notice in your family members the above symptoms- restless legs, snoring, gasping, trouble sleeping, and outright stoppage of breathing, then DO SOMETHING about it. Get them help. A child who snores is not very cute in my world- this is a dangerous thing. We can help these kids so much with their breathing by wearing ALF appliances. These devices open the airway and give more room for better breathing. With adults, the same appliances are very useful in reducing SDB- they are how I can actually cure sleep apnea.
As it turns out, most cases of Sleep Disordered Breathing are totally ignored. I am not talking just the apnea cases, I am talking about the other symptoms that I mentioned. Since most doctors out there have little to no training in this area, they tend not to address the obvious problems. Then, as the years go by the patient develops cardiac problems – otherwise known as the silent killer. Let me explain. With apnea, the patient gets less oxygen in their system than what their body needs. The heart rate increases to pump more blood to the brain, so blood pressure increases to make that happen. After enough years of this, the heart gets damaged- it just was not designed to work that hard during the nighttime.
In my office, we have just begun a new program to help analyze sleep apnea and what to do about it. I am in the process of setting up a meeting with my friend, an MD who is an internal medicine specialist. The plan is to have his office do the needed bloodwork to analyze Vitamin D-3, B Vitamins, and other indicators that correlate with SDB. The research is so far quite promising since once get the vitamins balanced out, this will help the patient sleep better, not to mention grind their teeth less. Yes indeed, dear readers, SDB directly correlates to clenching and grinding your teeth at night. Go figure!
So now that you know more about SDB, tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell your family members and get them some help. As always, my team and I are there to help you figure things out.