Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, also known as OSAS, is a dangerous sleep disorder. It affects millions of Americans of all ages and backgrounds. This condition decreases quality of life while increasing risk for serious and sometimes fatal health issues. The National Institute of Health is now saying that OSAS occurs as frequently as adult diabetes.
Due to the quantity of individuals suffering with this dangerous disorder, several studies are underway to further evaluate the condition. Knowledge of OSAS as well as associated conditions grows in leaps and bounds as we learn more about the long term effects of the sleep disorder.
Studies have also shown that genetics are a major player when it comes to this and other sleep disorders. However, the genetic influence is often under recognized.
OSAS is a much more complex condition than originally thought. Research shows that risk and severity of the disorder is influenced by a large number of factors, including genetics. An estimated 40 percent of cases may actually be significantly influenced by genetic factors. These genetics determine body fat distribution, craniofacial structure, as well as control of the muscles in the upper airway. As the population continues to learn more about sleep disorders, it’s important that they understand the genetic link.
One of the greatest problems with diagnosing OSAS is the fact that many people don’t realize they have the disorder. This is because the symptoms of the disorder can mimic several other issues. People suffering from OSAS and other sleep disorders experience excessive daytime drowsiness, difficulty focusing, memory problems, and much more. Many patients assume the symptoms are merely a sign of stretching themselves too thin. In most cases, the sleep disorder is usually discovered by the partner or spouse of the individual. People who have sleeping disorders don’t always realize there’s a problem because they’re not fully awake during the episodes. However, by recognizing the genetic link, these individuals can be aware of their greater risk for developing the condition.
An increase in research pertaining to the genetic link of OSAS has hinted that a variety of genes can result in the dangerous sleep disorder. The National Center on Sleep Disorders Research says that patients suffering from sleep apnea could possibly pass on the disorder’s genetic disposition to their children. Evidence shows members of the same family have the potential to suffer from the same type of OSAS.
There are a number of genetic traits that can contribute to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. For example, the craniofacial structure plays a role when it comes to an obstructed airway. It’s quite common for children to inherit the physical attributes of their parents. This often includes facial structure. The craniofacial complex is the configuration of the skull, face, and oral cavities. These physical traits can greatly influence if a patient suffers from airway obstructions while sleeping. The nose, mouth, jaw, and muscle tone can all be contributing factors to a collapsing airway during sleep.
When the airway is collapses or has an obstruction during sleep, the body must wake itself in order to clear the obstruction. This not only results in lower quality and disrupted sleep, but it also means the body is missing out on much needed oxygen up to hundreds of times per night. This can cause difficulties with cognitive abilities, affecting focus, memory, and motivation. The results mean lower productivity along with an increase in workplace accidents. In fact, some of the most notable accidents such as the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, Exxon Valdez oil spill, as well as bus and train crashes have been credited to sleep deprivation.
Cognitive issues are just the tip of the ice berg. OSAS is also a contributing factor for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. It can also cause other conditions to worsen such as epilepsy and diabetes. Thankfully, OSAS responds very well to treatment. In fact, many symptoms disappear completely once treatment begins. It’s even possible to reverse damage with appropriate treatment.
Patients who suffer with snoring and OSAS can now choose a treatment option which is approved by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. This new Oral Appliance Therapy option is a removable mouthpiece similar to a retainer. It prevents airway obstruction by gently realigning the tongue, lower jaw, soft palate, and uvula. Oral appliance therapy is quickly becoming one of the favored treatment options for those suffering from this sleep disorder. In fact, many patients who didn’t respond well to CPAP therapy have found relief using a customized oral appliance.
Mark Levy DDS is a leader in the sleep medicine field. He has helped numerous patients find relief from their OSAS using oral appliance therapy. Dr. Levy has made it his life mission to help patients get much needed sleep and improve their quality of life. He and his professional staff are extremely knowledgeable about OSAS and they work closely with patients to help find a treatment option that works for them, regardless of the cause of their sleeping disorder.
Don’t gamble with your health any longer than you already have. If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, please reach out to our offices. We can guide you through the diagnostic process and develop a treatment plan that will work for you.