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Sleep Matters: What Apnea Studies Teach Us About Brain Health

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Do you ever wake up feeling tired? Have you been told that you snore? If so, you may have obstructive sleep apnea, one of the most common sleep disorders among adults. One of two major types of sleep apnea, obstructive apnea occurs when you stop breathing while asleep because something is blocking your airway, and it can be very dangerous to sufferers. And, interestingly, the impact of sleep apnea on health can be quite extensive. As recent studies of both obstructive and central sleep apnea demonstrate, the condition may be linked to memory problems and may even mimic Alzheimer’s disease’s impact on the brain.

Sleep Apnea: The Basics

We know that obstructive sleep apnea is very common among adults, but we don’t have particularly good data on the condition, with estimates ranging from 9-38%. However, we do know that men, older adults, and overweight individuals are more likely to suffer from this form of sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea, a form of the condition characterized by the failure of the brain to trigger breathing during sleep, is more commonly linked to other health conditions, ranging from congestive heart failure to various neurological diseases, and may occur at any age. For example, children with Angelman syndrome are prone to both central and obstructive sleep apnea, as are young people with Prader-Willi syndrome. 

Sleep And The Brain

Sleep is an important function of the brain, and our brain’s activity changes immensely while we sleep. When we don’t get enough sleep, or sleep poorly, though, the consequences extend far beyond simple fatigue. Given this, scientists studying the impact of sleep, or a lack thereof, on the brain have turned to obstructive sleep apnea patients as a sample group, and one thing they’ve discovered is that many people with obstructive sleep apnea demonstrate the same brain changes seen in Alzheimer’s patients, despite the fact that they were never diagnosed with any form of dementia. 

Making Connections

Even before this study of sleep apnea patients, it was clear to researchers and doctors that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia were closely linked to sleep, and particularly to circadian rhythm disorders. As recent brain research has shown, Alzheimer’s patients often experience serious sleep disruption, which can cause them to get up and wander in the middle of the night and can complicate their care. Further research into the vulnerability of the primary circadian clock gene (Clk) to neurodegenerative disease is still underway.

Other Theories And Research Avenues

In addition to the research showing neurofibrillary tangles and beta-amyloid plaques in sleep apnea patients’ brains, ongoing work seeks to understand why these develop in this patient set. One working hypothesis suggests that insufficient deep sleep among obstructive sleep apnea patients may interfere with the body’s ability to clear beta-amyloid and other waste from the brain. Looking ahead, if researchers can determine why these patients develop plaques but do not develop dementia symptoms, this could offer valuable insights for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

Patients often dismiss sleep apnea as snoring or as a condition that just makes them feel a little tired, but the more we learn about it, the more concerning the long-term effects of this condition become. Just as researchers are taking the condition seriously as a topic of study, then, patients must take its management serious to mitigate its medical consequences.

Michelle has been a part of the journey ever since Bigtime Daily started. As a strong learner and passionate writer, she contributes her editing skills for the news agency. She also jots down intellectual pieces from categories such as science and health.

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Health

Getting to the Root of It! Lebanese Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Mohammad Waizani Explains Root Canal Treatments

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Did you know that more than 15 million teeth are treated and saved every year? One of the most common treatments received are root canal treatments. At Dr. Mohammad Waizani’s clinic in Beirut, he specializes in making sure anyone who comes in with a root canal, leaves with a bright smile! 

A root canal treatment is a dental procedure in which the soft center of the tooth called a ‘pulp’ is removed. The pulp is made out of blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves. In these cases, the pulp is infected after being exposed to bacteria that causes a lot of pain. The crown of the tooth is usually still intact despite the pulp being dead. 

Root canals can be caused by several reasons such as a chip or cracked tooth, deep decay due to cavities that are left untreated, an injury to the tooth, and multiple procedures on the same tooth. 

Some of the signs of root canal infections include the following:

  • Constant toothache 
  • Heat sensation and swelling of gums
  • Sensitivity to heat and cold 
  • Swollen jaw
  • Discoloration of teeth
  • Pain with applied pressure 

Dr. Waizani explains how this surgical procedure works to remove the pulp and ensure the tooth doesn’t get infected. He starts by applying anesthetics to the gum and around the infected tooth. Next, the pulp is removed through a small opening at the top of the tooth. After the procedure is done, his patients’ recovery includes antibiotics to ensure that that infection does not flare up post-procedure. This is followed by a temporary filling. 

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, there is no need to panic. Contact Dr. Waizani to schedule your appointment! 

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