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Symptoms and Health Effects of Sleep Apnea, with Dr. Catherine McGregor of Lyndhurst Dental and the TMJ and Sleep Therapy Centre in Ontario, Canada

A bed partner can often give clues as to a sleep disorder, which include snoring, a cessation of breathing and a gasping and choking sound, which is one of the more serious symptoms of sleep apnea.  The person will say that they always feel tired, their memory is foggy and men might present with impotence, according to Dr. Catherine McGregor of Lyndhurst Dental and the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre in Ontario, Canada.

During proper sleep, Dr. McGregor says that our body produces nitric oxide, which is essential for cardiovascular health, including blood vessels.  If a person is sleeping properly, there is a lesser incidence of blood pressure problems and cardiovascular issues and in the case of men, less chance of impotence, notes Dr. McGregor.

When a person has sleep apnea, there is increased gastric reflux, says Dr. McGregor, and that when a person is gasping for air, it creates a "toilet plunger" effect that draws up acid from the stomach into the esophagus that creates a heartburn effect.

Another problem a person may exhibit when they have a sleeping disorder is diabetes and according to Dr. McGregor, when a person has trouble maintaining their blood sugars, they may have undiagnosed sleep apnea.  Having poor sleep can disrupt a person's ability to control their blood sugar and it is important both are recognized and are treated in tandem, she notes.

Weight management is another negative health effect of a sleeping disorder, says Dr. McGregor.  During sleep, our body secretes two hormones that help regulate hunger and weight control, and without proper sleep, these hormones aren't produced, leading to poor weight management.

Dr. McGregor says that is important to look at all of the symptoms and the "why" of sleep apnea, and how they all "individually but collectively point to the possibility" that the person may have sleep apnea.  She says that a dentist's role can be very important in the screening and pick up on some of the signs and work with medical professionals to get the person properly diagnosed.

Dr. Catherine McGregor is a dentist with Lyndhurst Dental in Lyndhurst Ontario Canada and the TMJ and Sleep Therapy Centre of Eastern Ontario.  Dr. McGregor is also a leading sleep expert with Sleep Better TV.

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