Sleep apnea is a condition which is characterized by cessation of breathing for a few seconds to minutes and is associated with a drop in blood oxygen level. The term apnea refers to complete stoppage in breathing while hypopnea refers to shallow or restricted breathing.
There are two types of sleep apnea: Obstructive and Central. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common condition and is caused by an actual, physical obstruction in the airway. This obstruction can be due to narrowing of airway, collapsing of airway, laxity of muscles, large tongue, etc. Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, is due to lack of breathing impulse from the brain which in turns leads to stoppage of breath.
Untreated sleep apnea has far reaching health implications and increases healthcare expenditure. It also leads to worsening of pre-existing disorders like hypertension, diabetes, cardiac issues, etc. Studies have shown that treating sleep apnea leads to better control of blood pressure, blood sugar, decreases risk of stroke and improves overall cardiac health.
Patients who have sleep apnea often complain of forgetfulness, mental fog, lethargy, sleepiness and fatigue among other symptoms. All of these lead to loss of productivity at work and increase chances of workplace and automobile accidents. Managing sleep disorders has shown to improve neurocognitive functioning and decreased risk of vehicular accidents as per studies conducted in the United States. Long haul truck drivers and locomotive drivers are now regularly screened for sleep apnea in many countries to prevent catastrophic accidents caused by a very easy to treat disease.
There are multiple treatment options available ranging from CPAP machines and dental devices to surgery. The exact cause and level of sleep apnea needs to be evaluated by a sleep specialist to determine appropriate treatment needed. We spend a large part of our lives sleeping. Anyone experiencing sleep difficulties should have their sleep evaluated and see a specialist for corrective measures. In conclusion, sleep health is very important for healthy living and should not be ignored.
Everyone is desirous of sleep that is refreshing and sufficient. No one likes waking up in the morning and feeling groggy and unrested. However, good quality sleep remains elusive to a vast majority of us. Here are Dr. Tody’s top tips to help you sleep like a baby:
- Waking up and sleeping at roughly the same time everyday.
- Do not consume coffee or tea after 3 pm.
- Eat a light meal 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Do not indulge in heavy exercise in the late evening.
- Sleep in a room that is quiet, dark and cool. Optimum room temperature for sleeping is between 18-25ºC.
- Read a book or indulge in a quiet, calming activity before bed.
- Avoid checking your phone and limit screen time in bed.
- Use your bed mainly for sleeping. Avoid doing other activities like eating, working, studying, watching TV, etc., in bed.
- Practice mindfulness or sleep meditation in bed to help you fall asleep quicker.
- Drink chamomile tea or take a warm shower before sleeping.
If you experience a burning sensation in your mouth that worsens with certain activities and is accompanied with a dry mouth; chances are that you are suffering from burning mouth syndrome.
Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) is a condition that is often challenging to manage and can result in a poor quality of life for the patient. It is characterised by a persistent burning sensation in the mouth, especially the tongue and lips. The burning sensation is at times accompanied by dry mouth and altered taste perception. That is why this condition is called a syndrome.
There are no lesions or ulcers seen in the mouth. Burning or pain will be experienced constantly for at least 4–6 months, and is continuous throughout the day. Certain activities can trigger the burning pain. You should try and keep a track of your symptoms to see what worsens the burning and when it happens.
When I see a patient with these symptoms, I usually take a detailed history and conduct a physical exam. Certain tests are ordered to investigate for any underlying condition that may be causing the symptoms. If an underlying disease is detected, treatment for that condition is initiated. If all tests are normal, we start the patient on medication therapy for BMS. The medication prescribed is according to the patient’s symptoms and overall medical history. I usually like to try local application medication before advising any pills to be swallowed.
The treatment for BMS is not standardised and what works for one patient may not work for another. It usually takes a few weeks before patients notice any change in symptoms. It is very important to remain calm and communicate efficiently with the doctor. Stress can aggravate the symptoms so keep in mind that the management of BMS is a marathon and not a sprint.