This week marks the opening of the 2016 baseball season, and while the Denver-based Colorado Rockies again seem faced with big questions, one Major League All-Star in the offseason found the answer to sleep apnea, a common and potentially life-threatening disorder.
Fielder Fields Sleep Apnea
Early in spring training, six-time All-Star Prince Fielder, who currently plays for the Texas Rangers, talked to the club’s medical team about progressive problems getting a good night’s sleep.
“I felt like I was sleeping long, but I wasn’t feeling rested,” Fielder said in an article in The Dallas Morning News. “That was my concern, trying to figure out what was wrong.”
Fielder was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, and his description is typical among those who suffer from this sleep disorder. Many people with sleep apnea don’t know that their breathing actually stops multiple times per hour (in Fielder’s case, according to the article, about 39 times an hour), or recognize other symptoms such as chronic snoring.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Lineup
The hard-hitting Fielder’s doctors recommended CPAP therapy. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure, and CPAP treatment consists of wearing a breathing apparatus mask, which is connected to a device that continuously circulates air.
While CPAP has proven effective, and Fielder noted that he had so far been pleased with the results, many patients find the mask uncomfortable and discontinue use before it can help. While CPAP may be the designated hitter when it comes to sleep apnea treatment, it is not the only threat in the lineup.
Many patients have successfully restored healthy, restful sleep with the use of sleep apnea appliances. These oral appliances are custom designed to fit your bite, hold your jaw in a comfortable resting position, and promote an open airway as you sleep. The best sleep apnea treatment for you depends on unique factors associated with your condition.
Athletes and the Deadly Risks of Sleep Apnea
Fielder, of course, is not the first athlete to experience sleep apnea. He noted in the article that at least one teammate had been treated for the disorder.
But not everyone recognizes the warning signs of sleep apnea and seeks timely treatment. Obstructive sleep apnea gained the national spotlight in 2004 when the death of pro football Hall of Fame member Reggie White was linked to this dangerous condition, which can contribute to a heightened risk for heart disease, heart attack and high blood pressure, among other health problems. So many players were affected by the condition that the NFL launched a campaign against it, trying to promote awareness of dangers related to the condition.
Fielder admitted that after seeking treatment and understanding more about sleep apnea, he realized he had likely suffered from it for years. The article cites a 2015 study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical Center that indicates over an 18-year span, those with untreated sleep apnea die at a three-times greater rate than those without sleep apnea.
If you or someone else in your household snores regularly, experiences frequent sleep interruptions, or seems plagued by fatigue, please call the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado at (303) 691-0267 to schedule your appointment with an experienced sleep dentist. Dr. Kevin Berry has a winning record in helping patients treat sleep apnea and regain restful sleep.