22 million Americans have sleep apnea!!
And most of these people drive tired.
A recent study reported that 11.6 % of engineers of the New York Metro-North railroad suffer from sleep apnea. Wow! This is scary. Sleep apnea is a serious problem when the person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep which results in not enough oxygen getting to the brain or other parts of the body. These pauses of breathing or shallow breathing can last a few seconds or minutes. Then the person will take a deep breath to compensate for the lack of air, which often produces a loud snorting sound. The snoring that the person makes can be as loud as the noise of a train or an airplane.
This not only disturbs the person but also their bed partners.
Other symptoms are morning headaches; memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate; feeling irritable, mood swings; and the one that is very obvious is fighting sleepiness during the day, at work or while driving.
There are two types of sleep apnea.
The most common one is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) caused by a blockage of the airway, ie: deviated septum, or soft palate and the 2nd rarer type is central sleep apnea where the brain fails to send a signal to the muscles to breath.
Some risk factors are: Being male (though women after menopause and obese are at risk); excess weight; a narrow nasal airway; family history; smoking.
Complications can be: High blood pressure; heart problems; type 2 diabetes; liver problems; complications with medication; complications with anesthesia; and of course sleep-deprived partners.
The test for sleep apnea is a simple sleep study.
The patient spends a night in the sleep lab with leads attached to various parts of the body especially the brain (EEG). It doesn’t hurt and it gives a tremendous amount of information. If you fail the test it is recommended that you, after a good health history, sleep with a mask attached to a CPAP machine. A CPAP is a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep the breathing airways open. It consists of a machine, a mask that fits over the nose and mouth and a tube that connects the mask and machine.
I am constantly amazed when clients says to me, “I couldn’t sleep with a mask”, “I refuse to have a sleep study”, “Snoring doesn’t bother me”. Because I have had personal experience with using a CPAP I am able to help my clients. Personally I don’t think I have enough brain cells to lose so I will use my CPAP.