Frequent headaches can be a debilitating symptom of a serious condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common disorder where your breathing repeatedly stops and starts as you sleep. It can cause a variety of health problems, including hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Sleep apnea can also affect the quality of your sleep, leading to excessive daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. In this blog post, we will discuss the relationship between sleep apnea and headaches and how dental patients can manage their symptoms. Visit Houston Sleep Solutions for a consultation and evaluation.
Types of Headaches Associated with Sleep Apnea:
Headaches related to sleep apnea are often tension-type headaches, which feel like a squeezing or pressure around the head. These headaches can occur in the morning or during the day and can be triggered by a lack of oxygen during sleep. Another type of headache associated with sleep apnea is a migraine. Migraines are recurring headaches that cause moderate to severe pain, and can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
Mechanism of Headaches in Sleep Apnea:
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common form of sleep apnea, can lead to headaches due to a lack of oxygenation in the brain. When you sleep, the muscles in your airway relax and can collapse, blocking your airway. This can cause a drop in oxygen levels as you sleep, which signals your brain to wake up momentarily to gasp for air. These constant awakenings cause a fragmented sleep pattern and lead to headaches.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea Headaches:
To treat sleep apnea headaches, it is important to first treat the underlying sleep apnea. Treatment options may include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), oral appliances, lifestyle changes, and surgery. CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea, and it involves wearing a mask over your nose and mouth to deliver a continuous stream of air to keep your airway open. Oral appliances are also available, which are custom-fitted devices that reposition your jaw to keep your airway open during sleep.
Role of Dentists in Sleep Apnea Treatment:
Dentists can play a critical role in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea. They can create custom oral appliances that are more comfortable and effective than over-the-counter options. Dentists can also work closely with sleep physicians to monitor treatment outcomes and provide ongoing care. Additionally, dentists can educate their patients on sleep hygiene and lifestyle changes that can improve sleep quality.
Prevention of Sleep Apnea Headaches:
While it may not be possible to prevent all sleep apnea headaches, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to reduce their frequency and severity. These include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bedtime, establishing a regular sleep schedule, and sleeping on your side instead of your back.
Headaches associated with sleep apnea can be a challenging symptom to manage, but with proper treatment and lifestyle changes, they can be reduced or eliminated. As dental professionals, we play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea. By working closely with sleep physicians and educating our patients on sleep hygiene, we can help improve their overall health and quality of life.
Dr. Montz, Dr. Maher, or Dr. Dunwody at Houston Sleep Solutions South will be able to help you determine if sleep apnea treatment is right for you. Contact us now.
Locations (Tap to open in Google Maps):
2443 S Galveston Ave
Pearland, Texas 77581
Pearland Phone: 281-485-4829
1769 S. Friendswood Dr. Ste 107
Friendswood, TX 77546
Friendswood Phone: 713-565-1178