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Are You Suffering from Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Disorders Diagnostic Center

(410) 641-1100, ext. 5118

Do you find yourself awake half the night? Do you have headaches when you wake up? Is it impossible to pull yourself out of bed in the morning, and then even harder to stay awake during the day?

Occasionally, of course, everyone has trouble staying awake through a boring staff meeting or long drive home after work, but if you find yourself constantly battling daytime sleepiness, you may suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that often leaves its victims facing headaches, depression, memory loss or confusion, sexual dysfunction or even cardiovascular disease.

More than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a serious medical condition that can affect anyone, including children. The disorder is characterized by snoring, partial or complete cessation of breathing during sleep, reductions in blood oxygen level, severe sleep fragmentation and excessive daytime sleepiness.

The sufferer tends to be a snorer, whose loud breathing is interrupted by a choking halt in breathing that lasts from 10 seconds to more than a minute before breathing resumes with a snoring, choking noise. Snores are the results of partial obstructions of the airway- typically skin or fat- that produce loud noises in the upper airway during sleep. By treating sleep apnea, patients will wake up without headaches and feel refreshed each morning. Plus, they'll have an easier time losing weight and will add years to their life.

Signs Of Sleep Apnea

  • Daytime Sleepiness
  • Restlessness/Frequent Awakening During The Night
  • Morning Headaches
  • Dry Or Sore Throat On Awakening
  • Night Sweats

The reduced blood oxygen level sleep apnea sufferers experience is dangerous and will keep them from sleeping soundly. While sleepers should maintain an oxygen level of 90 to 100 percent throughout the night, people who experience sleep apnea usually have their oxygen level drop to unhealthy levels, which leads to restlessness, frequent changing of sleeping position or frequent waking. Depending on how severe the sleep apnea is, the sufferer could wake up numerous times in the night, making them lose valuable sleep.

Eventually, the repeated drop of blood oxygen levels can even hurt the heart, lungs and entire body. An estimated 50 percent of sleep apnea patients also suffer from high blood pressure.

The good news is that sleep apnea is a treatable medical condition. Patients will first take part in an overnight sleep study to determine if they actually have sleep apnea. Patients spend the night in a sleep lab, where they are monitored by a sleep technician who monitors stages of sleep, level of oxygen, heart rate, leg movement, breathing patterns, snoring and body positions. Patients are able to change position get up to use the restroom without any concern. The test requires at least six hours of computer time.

If diagnosed with the disorder, the most common treatment is CPAP, or Continuous Positive Air Pressure. The patient breathes room air under slight pressure through a mask. The pressure keeps the airway open and stops it from relaxing-working like an internal brace or splint. Correcting or fixing the breathing problems will help the oxygen level stay above 90 percent, eliminate snoring and let the patient get into a deep, restful sleep.

If you're suffering from what might be sleep apnea, don't continue to just suffer in silence. Getting proper sleep is essential to having a healthy, happy life and should be taken seriously.

Do You Have Sleep Apnea?

  • Do you snore nightly and/or loudly?
  • Has anyone observed you gasping or having pauses in breathing during sleep?
  • Do you wake up tired and groggy, or with a headache?
  • Are you often sleep during the waking hours ... can you fall asleep quickly and/or frequently?
  • Are you overweight ... do you have a large neck?
  • Are you frequently irritable, or suffer from mood swings?
  • Do you prefer to sleep upright?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, you may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Contract your physician to discuss your symptoms and explore diagnostic and treatment options.

Disorders Resulting from Sleep Apnea

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Auto accidents
  • Memory loss or confusion
  • Depression
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • High blood pressure
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