It’s that time of the year again: cold and flu season.
I just did a radio interview for Let’s Get Healthy! (KJCE, Austin, TX) talking about ways to avoid getting the cold or flu this season. In contrast to the typical advice that’s given for these type of interviews, I presented a radically different way of keeping healthy this winter: Do everything possible to breathe better and sleep better.
What can make you predisposed
If you are susceptible to sleep breathing problems, whether it’s obstructive sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome, any degree of inflammation or swelling from a cold or infection will only make things worse. More swelling in your nose and throat can cause more obstructed breathing, leading to more obstructed breathing and frequent arousals. This is why you’ll toss and turn more during sleep if you have a cold.
This is the season when a simple cold can turn into a lingering sinus infection, chronic cough, or chronic bronchitis. Some will take multiple courses of antibiotics. On top of all this, your sleep is even worse.
For some of you, you’re constantly sick and tired, no matter how healthy you eat, or how much you exercise. You’re still struggling to lose weight. You keep going to your PCP or pediatrician for the same problem.
The good news is that you’ve finally figured out that you have a sleep-breathing problem and that many of your symptoms can be improved if you can finally treat this condition that you’ve had for years.
You follow my advice to avoid eating or drinking alcohol close to bedtime. You avoid sleeping on your back. You try nasal saline irrigation, allergy sprays and pills, and even Breathe Right Strips. You’re feeling slightly better, but your nose is still chronically stuffy and you’re exhausted in the middle of the day.
Two common questions I get through my website is, “Do you know anyone in my (city or state) that’s like you?”, or “Can you clone yourself and see me in my city?” Unfortunately, except for a small handful of other sleep physicians, surgeons and dentists, I usually don’t know anyone in most areas of the country, not to mention in other countries.
Who you gonna call?
If you have obstructive sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome and are not making any progress with your currently prescribed form of therapy, what can you do? Who you gonna call?
I’m pretty confident that in most metropolitan areas, there are physicians and dentists to be found that truly appreciate the importance of the upper airway in relation to health and wellness. The challenge is in finding them.
Here are a few bits of advice that I recommend to my family and friends who are in search of good health care providers.
Tips for finding good doctors
Find a sleep physician that truly acknowledges, understands and can treat upper airway resistance syndrome, with various different modalities. He or she should work closely with dentists, orofacial myologists, ENT surgeons and maxillo-facial surgeons to offer the full range of obstructive sleep apnea treatment options, and not just CPAP.
Most dentists who make oral appliances for sleep apnea are certified by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. He or she should be knowledgeable about various different oral appliance options and not use only one device for everyone. Different appliances have pros and cons for various situations.
An ENT surgeon can be valuable in helping to address any structural problems, such as a deviated nasal septum or large tonsils. Ideally, a sleep-certified ENT is preferred, but for routine ENT issues, sleep certification is not needed.
Regardless of which type of health care professional you end up seeing, it’s important to have a plan regarding what you want out of the consultation. Is it to see if you’re a good candidate for a dental appliance? What criteria do you use to determine whether or not a mandibular advancement device will work for you? Does your ENT surgeon have a solid plan and recommendation about a tonsillectomy or nasal surgery, and what can be done if the surgery is not successful? What are the expected success rates for your particular situation? You don’t want to undergo any type of surgery, “just to see if it works.”
An alternative option
If you still can’t find a good doctor in your local area who understands your situation, there’s another option. I have many patients who fly in from other states or even other countries. This is a huge investment in time and resources, but it shows that some people make their health a top priority. I don’t expect everyone to come to see me in person. In fact, my schedule is so full, some patients have to wait 2-3 months to see me.
The next best option is to undergo a virtual coaching season with me via Skype or by phone. This is a 30 minute session where I provide personal, one-to-one coaching, giving you guidance on what steps you need to take, based on a thorough review of your medical history and test results. I spend up to 30 minutes preparing for these sessions, and I answer follow-up questions by email. The session is also recorded for your records.
Obviously, an in-person visit is always preferred, but after having done countless virtual coaching sessions over the years, it’s almost as good. Even though it’s not officially medical advice, participants have found the sessions extremely helpful, as evidenced by their testimonials.
So for a limited time, I’m offering my virtual coaching session for $299, down from the usual $459. This special offer ends Wednesday, 12/21/16. There are a limited number of spots availabe.
One thing I’ve noted in people who eventually succeed in treating their sleep apnea is that they don’t rely on free information or services all the time. They make an investment in their time and/or resources to move to the next level, on top of basic medical care that’s offered by our health care system.
There are a limited number of spots. Click here to sign up now.