If you are having frequent headaches, they can be disruptive. It can be hard to work, and even harder to play when you have bad headaches. And it can be very hard to track down the cause of your headaches, too, which makes them even more frustrating.
But sleep apnea is one thing that could be contributing to your headaches. In fact, there are many ways that sleep apnea could be causing your headaches. Fortunately, no matter how sleep apnea is causing your headaches, treatment could help reduce your headaches as well as protect your health.
High Blood Pressure Headaches
We know that sleep apnea is associated with high blood pressure. Also called hypertension, this condition may be one of the most conclusive conditions associated with sleep apnea. Less certain is whether high blood pressure causes headaches.
It is definitely true that hypertensive crisis is associated with headaches. In this type of high blood pressure event, your blood pressure is dangerously elevated and should be treated as an emergency. If very high blood pressure can definitely cause headaches, it seems likely that lower blood pressure could also cause headaches for some people. That means that this could be one way your sleep apnea is causing your headaches.
Lack of Sleep
Another reason why sleep apnea could be causing your headaches is that you’re experiencing a lack of sleep without realizing it. You may be going to bed at the right time, but with sleep apnea, you might be waking up hundreds of times a night without knowing it. So you’re getting a lot less sleep than you think. Not only that, but with the repeated awakenings, you’re spending less time in the deeper, restorative levels of sleep. So you’re getting even less rest. And that can cause headaches.
When you have sleep apnea, you experience repeated stops in your breathing. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise if you experience low oxygen levels as a result. And this can lead to headaches partly because of a lack of oxygen and partly because of an excess of carbon dioxide.
Impact on Migraines
Other times, sleep apnea can aggravate other conditions you might have that cause headaches. For example, migraines. People with sleep apnea may experience much higher rates of migraines. How much higher? When people with sleep apnea got treated in one study, their migraine frequency dropped by a whopping 92%! That’s almost a migraine cure!
Another condition that can be aggravated by sleep apnea is TMJ. TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorders) can contribute to both migraines and tension headaches. Sleep apnea aggravates TMJ because when your breathing stops, your body often clenches the jaw to try to keep the airway open. This repeated jaw clenching can cause TMJ or make it worse.
And this is a case where treatment might not always help. Some appliances designed to treat sleep apnea can also cause TMJ problems because they put your jaw in an uncomfortable position.
Let Us Help
If you are dealing with regular headaches that you think might be linked to sleep apnea, we can help. We offer an alternative to CPAP that can be more comfortable and more reliable. And because we’re both sleep dentists and TMJ dentists, we will make an oral appliance for you that can treat your apnea without aggravating TMJ.
To learn more about your sleep apnea treatment options in Denver, please call (303) 691-0267 today for an appointment at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.