According to new research, one of every four pregnant women suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Unfortunately, pregnant women with OSA are more likely to be left untreated because it is not seen as a danger to either the mother or child. However, this new research suggest that OSA can be the cause of several symptoms in pregnant women. Now, researchers are recommending that doctors diagnose this condition as gestational sleep apnea.
Doctors Ignore OSA in Pregnant Women
Doctors are ignoring OSA in pregnant women because they attribute difficulty breathing during sleep, as well as daytime fatigue, to their pregnancy. Doctors are usually unwilling to refer pregnant patients to an ENT specialist, believing that symptoms will subside after their child is born. Some researchers believe that this thinking is a misstep in helping pregnant women with gestational sleep apnea.
Prof. Yehuda Ginosar, director of the Mother and Child Anesthesia Unit at the Hebrew University, and co-author of the study, states that “Currently there is a lack of uniform criteria to diagnose, treat and classify OSA in the pregnant population, which in turn complicates efforts to determine the risk factors for, and complications of, gestational sleep apnea.”
The Risk of Gestational Sleep Apnea
Without proper diagnosis and treatment of Gestational Sleep Apnea, pregnant women are left at risk. Not only do they suffer from both difficulty breathing during sleep and daytime fatigue, but the disorder is known to cause several complications in their condition, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and heart disease.
When non-pregnant adults are diagnosed with OSA, they are treated with continuous positive airway pressure (PAP machine) to relieve their symptoms. Researchers stress the importance of diagnosing pregnant women so that they might receive the same treatment. Without proper action, women and their babies are at risk.
Dr. Suzanne Karan, co-author of the study and Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Director of the Anesthesiology Respiratory Physiology Laboratory at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, sends out a call to action for doctors, stating, “The time has come for our profession to wake up to the diagnosis of Gestational Sleep Apnea. This will allow us to research obstructive sleep apnea in pregnant women more effectively, and to develop and implement more effective treatments.”
Diabetes mellitus is a disease affecting more than 22 million people in the United States. For some time, the condition has been linked to sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. Scientists have yet to discover why the connection exists, but research into the matter is ongoing. One of the studies researching the link between the two disorders has found that bad sleeping habits in men can lead to a higher risk for diabetes.
Bad Sleeping Habits: Too Little and Too Much Sleep
This cross-sectional study was performed by the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam. They tested and analyzed 788 healthy adults ranging in age from 30 to 60 years old. With this study, scientists hoped to discover whether the amount of sleep one receives correlates to his or her risk for diabetes. According to the CDC, for adults, 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day is recommended.
Testing included measuring the patient’s sleep and physical activity using a device called a single-axis accelerometer to track movements. Simultaneously, using a device called a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, researchers tested how effectively the body used the hormone insulin, which processes sugar in the bloodstream. Their findings presented interesting results.
Disparity Between Men and Women
“In a group of nearly 800 healthy people, we observed sex-specific relationships between sleep duration and glucose metabolism,” said Femeke Rutters, PhD, and the study’s senior author. “In men, sleeping too much or too little was related to less responsiveness of the cells in the body to insulin, reducing glucose uptake
and thus increasing the risk of developing diabetes in the future. In women, no such association was observed.”
Men were less likely to be able to process sugar in their blood stream due to their bad sleeping habits. However, the women who participated in the study seemed to have no such problem. In women, regardless of their sleep habits, their bodies produced more insulin due to their enhanced beta cells. Their bodies were also more receptive to the insulin.
Hopefully, the results of the study will prompt more men to consider how much sleep they are getting each night. A healthy amount of sleep has shown positive results in people. However, bad sleeping habits can have a negative effect on your health and lead to other disorders.
As parents raise their children they often worry about the state of their well-being. Thoughts such as how they are sleeping throughout the night, and how well they are preforming in school, are examples of everyday concerns. Sometimes, those concerns are one in the same. Sleep apnea in children is a growing issue, and a recent study shows that learning challenges are also on the rise.
How Sleep Apnea in Children Affects Schoolwork
Scientists from the University of Chicago brought together 1,359 public school children ages 5 to 7 years, those with and those without a pre-existing snoring condition. The students were separated into four groups based on the severity of their sleep apnea.
They underwent sleep assessment questionnaires, an overnight sleep study and a measurement of their cognitive functions. Scientist found that even snoring has a detrimental effect on a child’s memory and language and his ability to understand and pay attention. Sleep apnea in children increases the chance of developing these cognitive defects.
How to Prevent Sleep Apnea in Children
The results of the study were presented at the ATS 2016 International Conference where Leila Gozal, MD, MSc, from the University of Chicago, states, “Our findings provide further justification for exploration and development of simple cognitive batteries that can be coupled to the current clinical evaluation of children with habitual snoring such as to better guide the management of the decision-making process.”
If you are a parent worried that your child is at risk for sleep apnea, here are some common symptoms you can look for:
- Enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
- Snoring, pauses in breathing, snorts, or gasping.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Daytime sleepiness.
- Behavioral problems.
- Learning difficulties.
The study shows that sleep apnea in children can lead to cognitive difficulties, which slow the progress of your child’s development. An ENT physician specializes in helping patients with sleep apnea symptoms. Consider having your child evaluated by a local ENT physician, so that the state of their well-being is less of a concern in the back of your mind.
The first multicenter-prospective study on the relationship between cancer and sleep-disordered breathing recently occurred. Crucial findings were discovered. The study revealed a link between untreated sleep apnea and an increased aggressiveness of malignant cutaneous melanoma.
Researching Melanoma Aggressiveness
Most research into sleep apnea establishes that there is a relationship between the disorder and heart disease. However, the researchers who conducted the multicenter study wanted to know if the condition could also be related to cancer.
According to the CDC, in 2012 alone, more than 1.5 million American were diagnosed with cancer, and more than 500,000 Americans died of this disease. Globally, 14.1 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in 2012. Every day scientists are trying to learn more about this prevalent illness.
The new study involved 24 teaching hospitals that are part of the Spanish Sleep and Breathing Network. The researchers examined the progress of 412 patients with confirmed cases of cutaneous malignant melanoma. Patients with melanoma were chosen because this form of cancer can be easily observed and measured.
Patients underwent a sleep study, and researchers discovered that those with the most aggressive cancers were more likely to have a severe case of obstructive sleep apnea.
“Based on our study, it seems a relationship between sleep apnea and cancer may also exist. It is very important, however, that people with sleep apnea do not infer that they will necessarily develop cancer,” said lead author, Miguel Ángel Martinez-Garcia, MD, PhD, from Hospital Universitario y Politécnico La Fe, Valencia, Spain.
Dr. Martinez-Garcia suggests that “People who snore, frequently wake up at night or have daytime sleepiness should see a sleep specialist, especially if they have other risk factors for cancer or already have cancer. Physicians—especially dermatologists, cancer surgeons and medical oncologists—should ask their patients about potential sleep apnea symptoms, and refer them for a sleep study if they have these symptoms.”
While more research is needed, this research hints at a link between the two conditions. Hopefully more doctors, like the ones who participated in this study, will learn more about the relationship between melanoma and sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a common condition among Americans, and while most people do not take the disorder seriously, prolonged treatment can make the situation worse. According to a recent study, hospitalized patients with a high-risk for sleep apnea are more likely to require emergency medical assistance during their hospital stay. Doctors suggest that treatment can be the key to reducing these hospital emergencies.
An extended stay at the hospital is a cause for concern. This usually means your condition is severe, and doctors will have to monitor you in case you have a medical emergency. The scientists of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University wanted to investigate the relationship between these hospital emergencies and high-risk sleep apnea patients.
Reasons for hospital emergencies include significant changes in blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, mental status, seizure, symptoms of a stroke, or chest pain. These are all serious and deadly changes within patients that require emergency care.
Initial screening involved 2,590 patients with sleep-disordered breathing. Once researchers established that patients with a high-risk for sleep apnea experienced more rapid response events during their hospital stay, they moved on to testing the effectiveness of positive airway pressure (PAP) treatment.
“When we treated these patients with appropriate sleep apnea therapy, the frequency of rapid response events decreased in compliant patients,” said Sunil Sharma, M.D., Associate Professor at Thomas Jefferson University and pulmonologist with Jefferson Sleep Disorders Center.
Sleep apnea is not a condition you should ignore. “The study suggests the important role of treating underlying sleep apnea to improve patient safety and quality in the hospital. We recommend a multi-centric prospective study to confirm these findings and determine the cost benefit of such initiative to improve hospital patient safety,” Dr. Sharma said.
Patients who ignore their symptoms and neglect treatment put themselves at even-further risk. Whether a patient is high-risk or low-risk, precautionary measures have to be taken.
It can be exhausting trying to fall asleep sometimes. No matter how much you try, insomnia can keep you awake during all hours of the night. While the condition may seem like a minor frustration, it could be an underlying sign of something worse. A recent study was performed by the Department of Medical Imaging, Guangdong No. 2 Provincial People’s Hospital, Guangzhou, China. The study found a link between insomnia and damage to the brain’s communications networks.
The Troubling Case of Insomnia
Insomnia is a sleep disorder, where patients often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. Most often it is associated with daytime fatigue, mood disruptions and cognitive impairment. The condition can be a sign or symptom of several disorders, including depression, pain, or obstructive sleep apnea.
Damage to the Brain’s Communication Network
“Insomnia is a remarkably prevalent disorder,” said researcher Shumei Li, M.S., from the Department of Medical Imaging. He goes on to mention that it is difficult to nail down the key to what causes the disorder.
Looking for answers to this challenging question, Dr. Li’s team investigated the white matter tracts in insomnia patients. He said, “White matter tracts are bundles of axons—or long fibers of nerve cells—that connect one part of the brain to another. If white matter tracts are impaired, communication between brain regions is disrupted.”
Researchers tested 23 patients with insomnia and 30 healthy patients without the disorder, measuring mental status and sleep patterns. Using a MRI with a specialized technique called diffusion tensor imaging, the researchers were able to monitor the patients’ brains and the pattern of water movement along the white matter tracts. With the goal of identifying a loss of tract integrity, scientist found telling results.
Insomnia patients had considerably reduced integrity of the white matter in several right-brain regions and the thalamus when compared to the patients without the disorder. These areas of the brain control consciousness, sleep and alertness. “These impaired white matter tracts are mainly involved in the regulation of sleep and wakefulness, cognitive function and sensorimotor function,” Dr. Li said.
More research needs to be done to find a definitive relationship between insomnia and the brain’s functions. However, you may want to consult your physician if you are having trouble sleeping. Sleep apnea is common among millions of Americans and also one of the causes of insomnia. Your doctor might be able to help you find a solution before the problem becomes worse.
Delaying treatment of obstructive sleep apnea can affect your daily life. Impaired breathing leads to difficulty sleeping, which leads to daytime sleepiness. However, not treating your sleep apnea can result in disastrous consequences. According to a recent study, commercial drivers who failed to properly manage their obstructive sleep apnea were more likely to cause truck crashes.
Untreated Sleep Apnea and Truck Crashes
The recent research is considered the largest study related to obstructive sleep apnea and crash risk among drivers of commercial motor vehicles. Scientists gathered 1,613 truck drivers with obstructive sleep apnea, and an equal number who do not (the control group), to participate in the study. Their hope was to find out how well truck drivers with sleep apnea performed on the road—when they consistently used treatment.
The truck drivers with obstructive sleep apnea were prescribed positive airway pressure therapy, otherwise known as PAP therapy. The researchers decided to give the drivers an automatic-adjusting machine that could be used at home or in the truck sleeper berth while on the road. The drivers who consistently followed through with the treatment performed just as well on the road as the control group. However, the rate of preventable truck crashes was five times higher among those who did not actively use their PAP therapy.
A common symptom of untreated sleep apnea is daytime sleepiness. This could be the cause of the rise in preventable truck crashes among drivers with sleep apnea.
Consequences of Neglected Treatment
“This study emphasizes that untreated obstructive sleep apnea is a pervasive threat to transportation safety,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s President Dr. Nathaniel Watson, who was not a part of the study.
Dr. Watson is not the only one who feels this way. Schneider, the North American trucking firm that researchers used to gather data for the study, terminated the drivers who did not adhere to sleep apnea treatments. However, they seem to be one of the few companies actively monitoring truck drivers with sleep apnea. Most trucking firms are not required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to institute mandatory sleep apnea screening. This is something medical experts are recommending needs to be changed.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and type 2 diabetes have been linked together for a long time. Research into the link indicates that OSA may cause or worsen type 2 diabetes. This relationship has led many scientists to believe that treatment of OSA might improve the symptoms of patients with both disorders. However, this idea is an on-going debate. One treatment of OSA, known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), has had conflicting reports.
What are CPAP Treatments?
Continuous positive airway pressure, otherwise known as CPAP, is a ventilator typically used by people who have problems breathing during their sleep time. The machine applies mild air pressure on a continuous basis in order to always keep airways open. CPAP treatments are most effective on patients who have obstructive sleep apnea.
The Two Studies
In a recent study conducted by the Autonama University of Madrid, CPAP treatments appeared to have had a positive effect on glycemic control in patients with OSA and type 2 diabetes. The study tested 50 people who have OSA, and whose type 2 diabetes was not well controlled. They found that after 6 months, there seemed to be an improvement in glycemic control.
Conversely, results from another study suggest that CPAP use may not have any effect on type 2 diabetes. Researchers randomly assigned a group of 298 patients who have OSA and well-controlled type 2 diabetes, to either receive CPAP or regular care. Their results showed that glycated hemoglobin levels in patients using CPAP did not show any more change than those using regular care.
Both studies were published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Atul Malhotra, MD, President of the American Thoracic Society and a sleep expert, was not a part of either study.
Dr. Malhotra suggest that the “Differences in race and ethnicity and changes in diet, exercise and metabolism that may occur with CPAP, may have also contributed to the different findings.” She also noted that the “differences in glucose control at baseline and the relatively small size of the studies” may have contributed to the difference results as well. In the end, Dr. Malhotra believes more research is needed.
If you suffer from a case of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and have been feeling a bit off, there might be a reason why. A new study has shown that sleep apnea may be taking a toll on how your brain functions; thus affecting your brain’s chemicals.
Affected Brain Chemicals
The new research, from the UCLA School of Nursing, showed significant changes in the levels of two essential brain chemicals. These neurotransmitters, glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is also known as GABA, are found in the region of the brain called the insula. This part of the brain regulates emotion, thinking, and physical functions such as blood pressure and perspiration.
Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that acts as accelerator. When its levels are high, they induce a state of stress within the brain. As you can imagine, the brain doesn’t function well when under stress.
GABA acts as an inhibitor in the brain. These brain chemicals basically act as the opposite of glutamate, relieving stress and keeping people calm.
The research determined that people suffering from sleep apnea showed high levels of glutamate and low levels of GABA.
What Does This Mean?
This research explains a significant number of problems experienced by people suffering with sleep apnea. More often than not, people with sleep apnea will report problems such as poor concentration, memory issues, having a hard time making decisions, depression, and stress.
Paul Macey, the lead researcher on the study and an associate professor at the UCLA School of Nursing, states, “It is rare to have this size of difference in biological measures…. We expected an increase in the glutamate, because it is a chemical that causes damage in high doses and we have already seen brain damage from sleep apnea. What we were surprised to see was the drop in GABA. That made us realize that there must be a reorganization of how the brain is working.”
Scientists find that their research is enlightening news for treatment against sleep apnea. With the findings from their research, Dr. Macey now knows that “Stress, concentration, memory loss – these are the things people want fixed.” They determined that when it comes to helping patients, they need to be aware of these symptoms.
A continuous pressure device (CPAP) is a machine that helps individuals sleep easier, and according to Dr. Macey, “is the gold standard treatment for sleep disturbance.” In the future, scientists hope to test whether or not people with altered brain chemicals will return to normal levels after using a CPAP machine.
A new study recently published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology recommends that parents look into whether or not their children are displaying systems consistent with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Those symptoms may be the cause of behavioral problems in children. Even if your child has a high IQ, you may still want to examine how well he or she is sleeping.
Research into Behavioral Problems in Children
In the initial study, the researchers examined 147 children, ages 3 to 12, who were scheduled for adenotonsillectomy, a procedure that removes both the tonsils and the adenoids. This procedure is common for those who suffer from OSA, as the condition tends to enlarge the tonsils and adenoids. This stops children from breathing, often several times during the night.
A previous study found that after receiving an adenotonsillectomy, behavioral problems in children—who were struggling in school or at home—decreased. The difference between this study and others is the fact that it focused on children who were doing well from the start.
Regardless of whether or not the children were from low- or high-IQ groups, researchers saw that the children improved at a similar level when their sleep and behavior were evaluated six months after the adenotonsillectomy procedure.
What Behavioral Problems Should You Look into?
The data from these studies is great news for parents with struggling children. They can nail down whether or not their child may have OSA.
Hyperactivity is a prevalent symptom. According to Seockhoon Chung, M.D., Ph.D., and Associate Professor at Asan Medical Center in South Korea, “Children with obstructive sleep apnea are fidgeting and not able to stay on task, because they’re doing anything they can to stay awake.”
This problem is harder to determine in children with a high IQ, because hyperactivity is less apparent. Dr. Chung suggests that, “Even when those behavioral problems are minimal, improvement is still possible.”
Parents may also want to monitor whether or not their children are snoring loudly, or if their breathing is sporadic throughout the night. Children with a high IQ will still benefit from having their OSA treated; improving both their behavior during the day and their brain activity.