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Sleep Apnea Linked to Memory and Attention Problems

New research published recently in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society shows a newly discovered link between sleep-breathing disorders such as sleep apnea and problems with memory and paying attention.  

The study looked at 1,700 adults using technology in their home environment to measures things like oxygen levels and other functions during sleep. Researchers determined that those with less than 90 percent oxygen saturation levels, which is a clear marker for sleep apnea, scored much lower on memory and attention tests. Researchers believe the lack of oxygen can damage blood vessels in the brain and cause inflammation that can result in nerve cell loss and lead to cognitive problems. 

It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of sleep apnea and seek medical treatment as soon as possible if you begin to suspect there could be a problem. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Snoring
  • Gasping, snorting or other breathing problems that interrupt sleep
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Poor memory
  • Morning headaches
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or scratchy throat

Dr. Buck believes that one of the main causes of sleep apnea is an undeveloped jaw where the tongue cannot fit properly. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP, machines can alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea, but many patients find them difficult to wear while sleeping. Luckily for those patients, medically approved oral appliances can be used as an alternative to CPAP and still effectively control the symptoms of sleep apnea.

These oral appliances can make a significant difference in patients' sleep quality.

"Sometimes if I fall asleep without it, when I snore, it’s such a jarring feeling to my body now," one patient said. "In a short time, it is really surprising what a difference the appliance makes for me."

If you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from the symptoms of sleep apnea, call our office today at 206-316-8286 or visit our comprehensive Sleep Apnea page. Dr. Buck is a recognized expert in the treatment of sleep apnea and can work with you to help manage and potentially cure your sleep apnea symptoms.

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