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Friday, November 24, 2017

To Sleep, Perchance to Breathe

by Christopher Gibson (writer), the burbs..., August 13, 2007

It's the middle of the night and you're fast asleep. All of a sudden you bolt upright in your bed gasping for air, sweat dripping from your pores, your heart racing. Is this the result of a nightmare, or something much more sinister?

For millions of Americans, the above scenario is a nightly occurrence. Not only do they wake up drenched in sweat, they snore like freight trains, toss and turn all night, wake up choking, and have trouble staying awake during the day. And these are but a few of the symptoms that these poor people contend with. So what is this evil affliction that torments them so? The name of the malady is Sleep Apnea.

Sleep Apnea is a condition in which a person ceases to breathe during the night. Left untreated, sleep apnea can be the precursor to a host of different conditions such as insulin resistance, hypertension, depression, GERD and (pay attention men), erectile dysfunction among others. In extreme cases, having undiagnosed sleep apnea can even lead to death.

[If you find statistics as boring as I do, skip the following paragraph].

According to the website wrongdiagnosis.com, it's estimated that approximately 18 million (1 in 15) Americans suffer from OSA. The lucky ones that have been diagnosed amount to approximately 13 million while there's still approximately 2 to 4 percent of the population (1 in 50) who remain undiagnosed.

[/end boring statistics]

So, what are some of the signs of OSA? Let's examine a few of the big ones:

Snoring - Loud snoring is probably the most easily recognized symptom of OSA. Although loud snoring is the most common and recognizable symptom, it doesn't automatically signal sleep apnea.

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness – This is probably one of the best indicators of sleep apnea. Excessive daytime sleepiness can lead to dangerous situations such as falling asleep at the wheel or falling asleep at your desk at work.

Memory or Concentration Problems – People with sleep apnea often complain of having problems concentrating or remembering things.

Episodes of Not Breathing – The scariest of the symptoms, especially if it’s your significant other lying next to you not breathing. This is often how sleep apnea is discovered.

Nighttime Choking Spells – pretty scary, I can tell you from personal experience.

Migraines – People with OSA often suffer migraines.

Now if you read the above symptoms and thought to yourself, “Self, I think we suffer from one or more of those symptoms”, what should you do? GET YOURSELF TO A DOCTOR. Sleep apnea is not something that you can just tell the doctor your symptoms and he or she will go “Yep, you have sleep apnea”. The only way to know for sure if you have sleep apnea is to have a sleep study performed. Sleep studies are fun (not really) and if you want more information about them, visit http://sleep.wustl.edu/fpp/sleep.nsf/WV/ED2919B2FE65A79A86256F70006B64A1 .

Now let’s talk about treatment. Treatment of sleep apnea is usually accomplished one of two ways. The least common and also least effective treatment is achieved through surgery. Surgery is only a viable option in a small amount of sleep apnea cases.

The gold standard treatment for sleep apnea is xPAP therapy (where x=C for CPAP or A for AutoPAP). The initials PAP stand for Positive Airway Pressure. xPAP machines help apnea suffers by forcing air through a tube and mask worn by the sufferer to help alleviate blockages of the airway and stimulate normal breathing. Although usually considered a hassle, if implemented and followed correctly, xPAP therapy is highly effective in helping to relieve the symptoms and improve not only quality of sleep, but quality of life for apnea sufferers.

I can tell you from personal experience that Sleep Apnea is a life robbing disorder. If you took the time to read this entire article, I thank you. If you read this article and you think you may have Sleep Apnea, please see a doctor. If I have helped one person with this article, then it was all worth it.


About the Writer

Christopher Gibson is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on To Sleep, Perchance to Breathe

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By Geddy on August 14, 2007 at 11:12 am
I also suffered for years before I figured out what it was causing me to sleep 12 hours at night and still need a nap during the day. I vividly remember my first sleep with a CPAP machine. There are no words to describe how great it felt. It took me all of 30 seconds to get used to the mask. I have used it for ten years now and don't know where I'd be without it. In fact I'm having another sleep study done soon to make sure I keep up with the technology.
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