People with sleep apnea struggle to stay awake and alert during the day. Sleep apnea can affect them as they go through their daily tasks of family care, driving, and work. Some patients wonder if they should talk about sleep apnea to their supervisor at work. Livonia Dentist, Dr. Stewart, answers that question, and discusses obstructive sleep apnea and its effect on you in your work environment.
Understanding Obstructive Sleep Apnea
In obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients, the throat area collapses due to the structure and size of your tonsils and adenoids, or your bone structure in your head and neck area. Extra soft tissue in overweight people can make it difficult for the throat muscle to keep the airway open. During a partial collapse, a limited amount of air can pass and you snore. A full collapse blocks off air passage and you stop breathing for an amount of time. Then your brain sends a signal to wake up your body, either fully or partially, which usually causes you to shift into a better sleeping position. This is obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea events can occur hundreds of times each night. Sufferers of the condition may not even know that they have it until they are told by someone sleeping in the same room. Anyone can develop OSA, although it is more common in men and in overweight people. If untreated, OSA may lead to high blood pressure, stroke, or heart attack. Shorter term concerns include fatigue and sleepiness while driving and at work.
Dealing with Symptoms at Work
Sleepy employees make less productive and more dangerous workers. Shift work, which often creates sleepiness in workers because of a different sleep/work cycle, adds to the danger. You may go to work feeling fine. Later, you may be operating equipment, dealing with a customer, or driving, and find yourself getting sleepy. Accidents and poor work are likely outcomes.
At work, you may find that you have to take a walk or change activities to wake up fully. This can help temporarily. For your health and well-being, you should have a sleep evaluation study and a recommended course of treatment. Current treatment options include the Continuous Positive Air Pressure, or CPAP, machine which comes with a mask that you wear at night. Another option is an oral appliance designed to block the soft tissue from collapsing, by holding the jaw and tongue in the proper position.
Dr. Stewart Answers the Question
On the question of whether to talk to your supervisor about your obstructive sleep apnea, there are two answers. If you are not having sleepiness or difficulties on the job due to your condition, you do not need to reveal that information. If your work is affected, describe OSA to your supervisor and explain your plan for treatment. Ask for assistance at work when there is a problem. Follow up as the treatment puts you on the road to a better night’s sleep and more awake work hours.
See Dr. Stewart about your sleep apnea concerns. He can provide a referral to a sleep evaluation doctor and can recommend treatment. He has found that many patients benefit from an oral appliance or a custom solution including an appliance and use of a CPAP machine. Your 48514 dentist serves patients in the area surrounding Livonia, including Farmington Hills, Farmington, Plymouth, Northville, Novi, Dearborn Heights, Dearborn, Garden City, Westland, and Redford. Contact the office of this general and restorative dentist at (734) 425-4400.