Those with COPD struggle to maintain a healthy balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in their bloodstream during the day. If they also have OSA, this sleep breathing disorder kicks in as soon as they fall asleep, leading to further stresses to their blood chemistry. While the rest of us rely on that nighttime period of consolidated sleep to maintain health and well being, and to recover from the stresses placed on our
systems by chronic illness, those with Overlap Syndrome never catch a break. This explains the term “overlap syndrome.” It’s a way to reference the never-ending challenges of breathing for those suffering from both COPD and OSA.
A dentist is equipped to identify two problems that present as risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea: sleep bruxism (a night time grinding of the teeth of clenching of the jaws) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux or heartburn. Fortunately, treating undiagnosed sleep apnea can provide relief for these other sleep-related problems.