Sleep disorders are another problem that seems to have recently taken a marked increase in frequency and severity. A Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) survey indicated that 22% (5.4 million) of adult Canadians report either being diagnosed with sleep apnea or are at high risk for OSA.
CHILDREN'S SLEEP APNEA
Just as orthodontic problems can be the result of poor skeletal growth due to a lack of fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids in children with low fat diets; so too can airway problems. But airway problems can also be due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids due to allergies or chronic infections. Breastfeeding also plays a very important role in the growth and development of the lower face.
If the bones of the lower face do not grow enough this can lead to a lack of room for all the anatomical structures confined within these bones such as tongue, tonsils, esophagus, and airway.
If the airway is restricted in a child; the first symptom may be that the child snores. This might seem cute but it is just the first of many problems. Later symptoms include; poor sleep habits, hard to awaken, falls asleep in school, fails to grow properly, hyperactive behaviour, attention problems, learning problems, possible bed wetting, irritability and behavioural problems.
These cases are hard to diagnose and require a specialist with very specialized equipment.
ADULT SLEEP APNEA
Unlike children's Sleep Apnea where the child is likely to be hyperactive; adults with sleep apnea tend to exhibit slower than average activity and the most common symptom is an inability to stay awake during the day.
While adults with sleep apnea may start off like children with confined airways due to a lack of growth in the lower face; adult sleep apnea is often made worse by the accumulation of extra body fat. Extra fat in the neck and floor of the mouth can further constrict its airway. Extra body fat in the abdomen can cause pressure against the diaphragm making normal breathing much more difficult.
There are lots of good treatments for sleep apnea ranging from the CPAP to assorted oral appliances. Again, just like with children, a correct diagnosis is the key to success. This requires a very thorough study of the case by a specialist with the right training and equipment. The problem with the use of the CPAP or an intra oral appliance is that these remedies only treat the symptoms but do not address the primary problem. Therefore, the treatment will have to be continued for a lifetime.
There is sound reason to believe that our modern high carbohydrate - low fat diets may well be a significant contributing factor in many cases of sleep apnea. A more sustainable approach to the problem may be as simple as changing to a low carbohydrate diet. This is a solution that costs nothing so it might be worth a try.