If someone says you’ve got a thick skull, it’s usually not a compliment. While a thick-skulled personality is not always something to be proud of, a physically thin skull isn’t a desired trait either. But people who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have been found to have significantly thinner skulls than those without the sleep breathing condition. Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine examined the link between skull thinning and obstructive sleep apnea, and discovered that people with OSA have a much higher risk of a thin skull and consequential dangerous side effects. In the study, 114 participants with significantly thinner skulls had been diagnosed with moderate to severe OSA.
Thin Skulls Linked to Sleep Apnea
People with OSA are noisy night-time breathers, often snoring loudly throughout the night because their airway partially collapses while they sleep, which prevents them from breathing properly. A partial airway collapse creates turbulent airflow that vibrates tissues, causing loud snoring or gasping for breath. Scientists have discovered that the vibrating tissues weaken the skull; thinning it by up to 1.23mm.
Thinning of the skull puts OSA patients at an increased risk of spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid leak (sCSF-L), a potentially fatal condition. When the skull erodes, cerebrospinal fluid (colorless and odorless) leaks away from the brain and the spinal cord, and can result in coma, stroke, and sometimes death.
How to Tell if You Need Sleep Apnea Screening
More research is needed to determine how OSA causes skull-thinning, but the link has been established. Scientists have advised that anyone with OSA symptoms like loud snoring should be screened for the disorder. Other tell-tale night-time signs of OSA are restlessness, waking up frequently during the night, and even sweating. It’s common for undiagnosed people to think they are simply suffering from nightmares, but this may not be the case. As many of 80% of people with sleep apnea are undiagnosed and untreated.
If these night-time symptoms are combined with day-time symptoms such as morning headaches, sore throat, dry mouth or fatigue, sleep apnea is likely.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea is Effective
A correct diagnosis for sleep apnea can be achieved with a dentist that provides an at-home sleep test. The WatchPAT™device is a take-home test that comprehensively evaluates your sleep time, interruption and states in real-time, without the need for a sleep clinic or center.
The data from your sleep test is sent to a doctor for diagnosis. Following a diagnosis, treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea is often successfully treated by correcting tongue displacement or jaw alignment issues. We can do this with an oral appliance, although often myofunctional therapy can actually cure sleep apnea. It does this by changing the size and shape of your airway.
Dr. Pamela Marzban, a Fairfax cosmetic dentist, can provide snoring and sleep apnea relief with a number of different methods. She is currently the only dentist in the Burke, VA or Fairfax, VA area providing the revolutionary at-home sleep test called the WatchPAT ™. Call 703-323-8200 to learn more about snoring relief and sleep apnea treatment.