People who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have been found to have significantly thinner skulls than those without. Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine that OSA may lead to thinning skulls with potentially fatal consequences.  

Sleep Apnea Thins the Skull | Omaha, NE

How Sleep Apnea Thins the Skull

There are two types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea. Most people suffer from OSA which is caused when your airway collapses as you sleep. During the day, our airway is held open by our muscles and gravity, but at night while lying down, your muscles relax, sometimes enough that your airway narrows or even collapses.

That’s why people with OSA are noisy night-time breathers, often snoring loudly throughout the night. A narrow airway creates turbulent airflow that vibrates tissues, which creates a snoring sound. The airway can even collapse, leaving a person gasping for breath. Scientists have discovered that the repeated stops in breathing can weaken the skull; thinning it up to 1.23mm.

The exact mechanism that links OSA to skull thinning is unknown. It could be the vibrating tissue. Or perhaps it is a disturbance in the hormones that control bone building.

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.

Preventing Thin Skulls with Sleep Apnea Treatment

Scientists are urging anyone that snores and experiences other sleep apnea symptoms like morning headaches, restlessness or insomnia to seek out a diagnosis. A sleep study can determine whether or not you suffer from sleep apnea so it can be treated before it thins the skull.

There are many effective treatments for sleep apnea that can prevent skull thinning before it begins to occur. A popular alternative to CPAP is oral appliance therapy because it provides a more comfortable sleep experience than a tube and an air mask. An oral appliance can gently reposition your jaw to help keep your airway open.

Don’t ignore snoring because it could be a sign of more dangerous and even fatal condition. Dr. Roger Roubal, an Omaha Nebraska area sleep dentist, has three decades of experience treating sleep apnea and snoring. For a better night’s rest and peace of mind, schedule an appointment with Dr. Roubal to learn more about snoring, sleep apnea, and the treatments that are available for both conditions. Call (402) 493-4175 or email us today.