There are so much information on sleep apnea that as I keep researching the subject it touches so many aspects of our health. This section touches on some of the medical implications from sleep apnea. Between proper diagnosis and treatment it is possible to improve many of these conditions. In later blogs I will discuss treatment of apnea and how dental evaluation will be an option for those diagnosed with OSA.

Diabetes. Diabetes is associated with sleep apnea and snoring. It is not clear if there is an independent relationship between the two conditions or whether obesity is the only common factor.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). GERD is a condition caused by acid backing up into the esophagus. It is a common cause of heartburn. GERD and sleep apnea often coincide. In one study, almost half of apnea patients had symptoms of GERD. Some experts suggest that the backup of stomach acid in GERD may produce spasms in the vocal cords (larynx), thereby blocking the flow of air to the lungs and causing apnea. Or, apnea itself may cause pressure changes that trigger GERD. Some evidence suggests that treating sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may reduce GERD symptoms by nearly 50%. However, obesity is common in both conditions and may be the common factor. More research is needed to clarify the association.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). In a 2000 study, women with PCOS were 30 times more likely than other premenopausal women to have obstructive sleep apnea and excessive daytime sleepiness. Women with PCOS produce high amounts of male hormones, particularly testosterone, which can cause obesity, facial hair, and acne. About half of PCOS patients also have diabetes. Obesity and diabetes are both associated with sleep apnea and may be the common factors.

Chronic Problems in the Upper Airways. A 2001 Swedish study found that people with respiratory tract disorders, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, or seasonal allergies, reported symptoms of sleep apnea more often than those without any of these ailments.

Hypothyroidism. In rare cases, hypothyroidism has been reported as possible cause of sleep apnea. In such cases, treating the thyroid condition improves the sleep apnea.

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