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Think You Might Have Sleep Apnea? Here’s Why You Need to Get to a Doctor

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Sleep is something our bodies should do naturally, yet many of us suffer from insomnia or other sleeping disorders. Sleep apnea, for example, is present in around 18 million Americans. That means that around one in every 15 Americans — or almost 7% of the total population in the United States suffers from sleep apnea. And many people who have sleep apnea also suffer from insomnia — according to statistics, between 39-58% of those with sleep apnea also have insomnia. Both sleep apnea and insomnia can have negative effects on your health, emotions, moods, and overall well being. Luckily, there are remedies for both these sleep disorders. For insomnia, visiting a sleep therapy center or going to a sleep disorder center might help. For those with sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend starting CPAP treatment.

What is Sleep Apnea and Am I At Risk?
As mentioned before, sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder. As you sleep, you have pauses in your breathing, which can last anywhere from mere seconds to minutes. With the most common type of sleep apnea — obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), your airway collapses or is blocked while you sleep, causing a blockage in the air you receive. When you try to breathe, the snoring or choking sounds associated with sleep apnea occur. During an average night’s sleep, someone with sleep apnea might have 60 apneas every hour — around 400 apneas over the course of one night.

There are certain factors that can put you more at risk for sleep apnea — if you’re asthmatic or overweight, for example, you may may be more prone to developing sleep apnea. Men are also more likely than women to suffer from sleep apnea, and your chance of having it increases as you get older.

What’s So Bad About Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea has long been linked to cardiovascular trouble. The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research reports that almost 40,000 deaths annually are related to cardiovascular problems that are in some way, shape, or form, related to sleep apnea. This means that if your sleep apnea goes untreated, you could be at increased risk for heart attack, stroke, or heart disease.

Furthermore, over 40% of patients with just mild obstructive sleep apnea and almost 70% of those with severe obstructive sleep apnea had hypertension — that is, abnormally high blood pressure. Diabetes and weight gain have also been related to untreated sleep apnea.

Furthermore, your rest isn’t as effective when you have sleep apnea, which is why so many people with sleep apnea complain that they still feel tired when they wake up. According to a National Sleep Foundation Poll, around 60% of people have driven while tired and almost 40% confess that they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel in just the last year. You may find yourself nodding off at work, at the dinner table, or behind the wheel. This can pose a danger to those around you and be frustrating for both you and your loved ones.

How Can CPAP Treatment Help Me?

Luckily, for those with sleep apnea, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. CPAP treatment can help effectively treat sleep apnea and CPAP machines are fairly common these days. Your doctor may recommend CPAP treatment and in some cases, your insurance may even cover the cost of the CPAP machine.

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. A machine blows a steady stream of pressurized air through a tube that’s attached to a mask or nasal pillow. The air keeps your airway from collapsing or being blocked, allowing you to get the air you need as you sleep. You do need to use it regularly for good results, however, and it may take some time getting used to sleeping with the nasal mask or pillow. On the other hand, you’re sure to sleep better and more soundly.

Do the right thing for your health if you suspect you have sleep apnea and talk to your doctor. CPAP treatment now could save you a lot of hardship in the future.

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