Unusual Suspects of Sleep Apnea (1)

We know the usual OSA connections, but what about the UNUSUAL?



Some of the more common signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea are snoring, morning headaches, daytime fatigue, mood swings and waking up with dry mouth.  Today, we are going to share some of the not so common connections to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).  Next time your patients discuss any of the below conditions, make it a priority to provide further testing for OSA.


  1. Nocturia – While frequent nighttime urination, called nocturia, is often linked to aging, it’s also a common sign of sleep apnea. This  fight-or-flight response creates a feeling of a full bladder. The possibility of sleep apnea should be considered if patients suggest routinely waking up to use the bathroom during the night. (Reference – The National Sleep Foundation, AARP)


  1. Glaucoma – Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the systemic risk factors for glaucoma which causes irreversible visual field (VF) damage. … There is evidence that the prevalence of glaucoma is higher in OSA patients, which independent of intraocular pressure (IOP).  (Reference – Oman J Ophthalmol. 2016 Sep-Dec; 9(3): 125–134.)


  1. Restless Legs Syndrome – More common in women, however there is an association between restless legs syndrome (RLS) and obstructive sleep apnea. In patients with clinically significant RLS, treatment of concomitant OSA significantly improved RLS symptoms, enabling drug therapy reduction in more than half of the patients. This data reinforces the need to actively diagnose OSA in RLS patients. (Reference – Department of Neurosciences, Hospital de Santa Maria, Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Norte, Lisbon, Portugal)


  1. Menopause – A woman’s risk for sleep apnea goes up dramatically as she enters menopause.  The hormones estrogen and progesterone appear to have protective effects over women’s sleep and their breathing during sleep. As those hormones decline in menopause, the risk for sleep-disordered breathing including OSA goes up. (Reference – National Sleep Foundation, The Sleep Doctor)


  1. Erectile Dysfunction – In 2009, German researchers reported that 69% of male study participants with obstructive sleep apnea also had Erectile Dysfunction (ED)… This is because insufficient sleep, such as that caused by sleep apnea, can reduce testosterone levels, resulting in decreased libido and ED. (Reference – Center for Pneumology, Donaustauf Hospital, Ludwigstrasse 68, D-93093 Donaustauf, Germany.)


Did you know? – Since patients tend to see their dentist more frequently than their physician, dentists are in a unique position to screen and treat snoring and OSA.  If you would like a partner in the area of airway and breathing disorders, Tucker Educational Excellence provides various live lectures on the topic, as well as webinars and in-office trainings.  In the meantime, learn more about our Complete Program, and we look forward to helping you amp up your airway and breathing disorders practice!

Share this post