Obstructive sleep apnea, a serious and potentially fatal disorder, affects approximately twenty-six percent of the male and nine percent of females between 30 – 60 years of age. It is much more common in males, but after menopause, this gap narrows as the hormonal changes make females’ upper airway more collapsible.
Twenty years ago, the consensus was that sleep apnea is a disease of heavy men. But now more and more females, and thin patients are diagnosed with sleep apnea, because fat deposition around the airway is only one of the risk factors for this disease. There are genetic, familial, and anatomic factors that can cause repeated collapse of the upper airway.
Snoring, daytime fatigue, witnessed apnea (cessation of respiration for more than ten-seconds sometimes as long as a minute), morning headaches, dry throat, and waking up gasping for air are common features of this disorder, which is being increasingly recognized as a formidable enemy of life. There are also patients, even with severe apnea, who will deny symptoms. “I sleep fine. I don’t have a problem with daytime sleepiness.” Only after the treatment, do they realize how sleepy and tired they were.
Sleep apnea prevents a person from reaching deep, restorative stages of sleep, making the person grumpy, irritable, nervous, forgetful, inattentive, and tired. It also increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, and early death because of the nightly struggle to breathe, which causes frequent elevation of blood pressure and sustained drop in blood oxygen level, while simultaneously increasing the oxygen consumption of the heart muscles. Untreated, sleep apnea increases the risk of motor vehicular and industrial accidents.
Take the STOP-BANG questionnaire to determine your risk for obstructive sleep apnea:
Do you Snore loudly?
Do you often feel Tired, fatigued, or sleepy during daytime?
Has anyone Observed you stop breathing during sleep?
Do you have or are you being treated for high blood Pressure?
Is your BMI >35kg/m2?
Is your Age greater than 50 years?
Is your Neck circumference bigger than 40 cm?
Are you male Gender?
Patients with three or more positive responses should get evaluated for obstructive sleep apnea.
You can also watch Dr. Patel’s brief video clip from Public Broadcasting Station in the USA to learn about the symptoms of sleep apnea https://youtu.be/bE_BUlcFm8Y
Most patients can be diagnosed by a home sleep test, which is quick, convenient, and significantly cheaper than an in-lab sleep study.
The home test report below shows dangerous drops in the oxygen level in a young salesperson with uncontrolled blood pressure and blood sugars, elevated cholesterol, and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Please notice the sudden increase in the heart rate repeatedly during the night. His lowest oxygen saturation was seventy-one percent. The minimum required by our organs is ninety. This, as you can imagine, can be serious or even fatal. Again, notice the repeated increase in the heart rate.
The treatment includes sleeping with a small mask or cannula that pressurizes your throat and keeps it from collapsing so that you spend enough time in the deeper stages of sleep and wake up refreshed.
It is extremely rewarding to get treated for sleep apnea. People cannot contain their excitement once they start the treatment.
“I did not know how sleepy I was until I started wearing CPAP.”
“A hazy screen has been lifted off from my face.”
“I thought it was all stress and aging, but now I feel young again.”
“I am thinking clearer. I am planning better. I am getting more done at work and home.”
“I have so much energy that I don’t know what to do with it.”
“My blood pressure is better; my sugars are better controlled.”
“I should have done this a long time ago.”
“For the first time in decades, I am dreaming!”
“My coworkers have noticed my energy and enthusiasm.”
“Even though I didn’t feel tired before, now I am feeling different; better, more alert!”
“I wake up before the alarm goes off. I used to have two loud alarms, and still, I will sleep through them and be late to work.”
“I am dreaming deeper. Dreams are more pleasant and more vivid.”
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, please talk to your doctor. It will give you a new life.Tags: Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Sleep apnea, What is obstructive sleep apnea