August 15, 2019
You strive to take good care of yourself. You wash your hands frequently, eat a balanced diet, and try to get enough exercise. And yet, you still often find yourself feeling under the weather. Don’t jump to the conclusion that you have a naturally weak immune system. The cause of your frequent cases of sickness might actually be obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Let’s talk about two ways in which OSA can make you more vulnerable to illness.
OSA and Your Immune System
Cytokines are a special class of protein within your cells. There are a number of different types of cytokines, but they are all signaling proteins. They help to regulate the immune system and fight inflammation. And guess when your body produces cytokines? That’s right. When you’re asleep. That’s why one of the best things you can do when you’re sick is get as much rest as possible. Getting enough sleep can also prevent illness in the first place. One study cited on the National Institutes of Health’s website found that inadequate sleep can make individuals almost three times more likely to catch a common cold.
Because OSA disrupts the sleep cycle, it hinders your body’s ability to produce cytokines and fight off infections. Therefore, it leaves you more vulnerable to all sorts of illnesses, including pesky colds, flus, and more.
Sickness and Your CPAP
“But I’m already being treated for OSA, and I still don’t feel good,” you might say. The cause of your problem could be related to your CPAP machine. When the machine was new, it was completely sterile. However, it may not be so sterile now, particularly if it has a heated humidifier and heated tubing. Many organisms, such as yeast, mold, and fungus, love a warm, moist environment. If you do not keep your CPAP machine clean, you could end up with a nasty colonization inside of it. Breathing in those organisms could lead to a cough, bronchitis, or even pneumonia.
Of course, there are some simple ways for you to prevent such an unfortunate occurrence. One way is by making sure to keep your CPAP clean. Wash it regularly with soap and hot water. You should also keep up with machine’s maintenance and replace the filters as often as recommended.
If you think it is inconvenient to invest a lot of time in caring for your CPAP machine, speak to a dental sleep medicine expert about CPAP alternatives. Many patients have found relief from OSA with a custom-made oral appliance. Such an appliance resembles a mouthguard that is used for sports. It is quite small and easy to clean — and there is no attached machine to blow microorganisms into your lungs!
Is your OSA — or the treatment for it — making you sick? Take action today to achieve better sleep and a lower risk of illness.
About the Author
Dr. Kenneth Mogell is a dentist who focuses on helping patients combat sleep apnea via oral appliance therapy. If you would like to learn how he may be able to help you lead a healthier life, contact our office today at 561-394-9000.
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