According to the National Institutes of Health, there are 50 to 70 million Americans suffering from sleeping disorders, with many of them not even being aware of the problem. One of the most common sleeping disorders is sleep apnea, which is caused by the body’s inability to breathe during sleep. When a person has this condition, the body cannot breathe properly because the muscle tissue at the back of throat has collapsed, causing blockage in the airways.
The result is what commonly called snoring.
ResMed is a pioneer in the sleeping disorder industry because it has commercialized the first ever equipment to treat sleep apnea, called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The company believes that despite the prevalence of this disorder, there aren’t enough patients being screened for it.
Some of the patients are not aware they have sleep apnea because the symptoms will only manifest themselves during sleep. Also, other people make the mistake of not seeking treatment because they attribute it as mere “snoring.” This should not be the case because that snoring could be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed right away.
A sleeping disorder like sleep apnea needs to be taken more seriously as it can affect the overall health and well-being of a person.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
A person who has untreated sleep apnea will suddenly stop breathing in the middle of sleep, causing the oxygen to stop traveling to the brain and the rest of the body. The brain recognizes this and will send a signal to wake the person up, so he or she can start breathing again.
The cycle repeats itself until the person is fully awake the following morning. This results in unsound sleep that can cause growing exhaustion in a person.
Signs and Symptoms
Here are some of the signs and symptoms that your patients will have if they are suffering from sleep apnea:
-Snoring while sleeping
-Choking or gasping sounds while sleeping
-Urinating frequently at night
-Waking up with a dry mouth or a sore throat
-Lack of focus
-Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS)
Here are a few things that increase the likelihood of a patient having sleep apnea:
Male over the age of 60
A surprisingly large number of older men suffer from sleep apnea.
Obesity and thick neck
The buildup of fatty deposits surrounding the neck and throat can fall back and obstruct the airways. A neck that has a circumference of 17 inches or more for men and 16 inches or more for women increases the risk of having sleep apnea.
When the brain tries to wake up and jumpstart the body so it can start breathing again, it causes a spike in the blood pressure.
Having a history of sleep apnea in the family increases the risk of the patient of having one as well.
Sleep Apnea Links to Other Health Issues
A person suffering from sleep apnea has increased levels of blood pressure at night in order to keep the oxygen flowing to the brain. This tends to carry over even during daytime when the person is awake, resulting to high blood pressure at all times. High blood pressure is a major risk factor that could lead to serious heart disease.
Frequent sleep disruptions could also affect a person’s ability to control their level of blood sugar. Sleep-deprived people are also often tired and fatigued in the morning. They have a tendency to eat sweets because of the sugar rush—and the short-lived energy—it provides.
Treatment with CPAP
Sleep apnea is a prevalent issue for many patients and proper screening should be implemented first, in order to properly diagnose them, and to accurately identify the type of sleep apnea they have.
Once a patient has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, one of the most effective ways to treat it is through the use of CPAP technology. A CPAP machine attached to the nose of a patient continuously pumps a stream of air while the patient is sleeping, keeping the airways free from any obstructions.
Proper screening should be done using professional facilities such as Sleep Rite’s Sleep Labs, where a patient can fully relax and sleep in a comfortable room, while a licensed and registered sleep technician monitors the person’s sleeping patterns.
Through the use of a non-invasive polysomnogram test, the patient’s sleeping behaviors can be accurately observed and measured through brain wave activity and eye movement. A physician from Sleep Rite will then evaluate and recommend a treatment program for the patient’s sleep apnea.
By being aware that sleep apnea may be an underlying issue in other health problems, physicians can refer patients to be screened, thus effectively identifying if a sleep disorder is at play. Patients can then be set on the path to relief and a healthier life.