Sleep apnea is typically associated with snoring, but there’s a lot more to the potentially serious disorder that interrupts breathing repeatedly during sleep. Millions of people across the nation fail to realize what a good night of sleep feels like. According to sleepapnea.org, “It is estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, with 80 percent of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) cases left undiagnosed.” Sleep apnea has been a significant health issue in the United States. We need to spread awareness on the dangers of sleep apnea to avoid experiences like the two stories below.
True Experience #1: Dan is in the healthcare industry and saves lives for a living. He takes great pride in helping others every day but there’s one problem. He isn’t taking care of himself! He snores like crazy (that’s when he actually falls asleep). Most of the time, he cannot sleep. He has such a hard time falling asleep because he mentions all he hears in his head at night are sirens and the dispatchers on the radios with emergency calls. Sleep apnea is dangerous if left undiagnosed and untreated and he knows that. For the sake of his family, he decides to get tested. He receives a home sleep test and takes the test for one night. Once he returns the device, he receives his results which show that he has severe obstructive sleep apnea. Now what?
Dan decided he did not want to follow up with his physician. He doesn’t want to admit he has sleep apnea (despite what the results had shown) because he doesn’t want to use a PAP machine. As a healthcare professional, he is well aware of the different options available for his health. You know the saying, “You won’t know if you don’t try.” You won’t get to experience a restful night’s sleep until you have decided to admit that you have sleep apnea and treat the dangerous sleep disorder. Try sleeping with a PAP machine or an oral appliance. Once you treat your sleep apnea, you’ll be grateful you took the steps necessary to improve your own health!
True Experience #2: Harry has no idea what a “good night sleep” is and he does not remember the last time he was able to sleep without waking himself up. He chokes in his sleep, wakes up gasping for air, and he snores! He’s lived with these symptoms for over 10 years but he has decided to take action now. Why did he wait over 10 years to improve his overall sleep quality and his health? He is only doing it for his wife! Yes, his wife. He said she wakes up angry due to lack of sleep because all she hears is his loud snoring at night. He just wants her to stop complaining every morning. He experienced divorce
years ago due to his sleep apnea and he doesn’t want to lose his wife for the second time due to his loud snoring.
Harry stated he doesn’t care for his own health, he cares about his wife. Now, let’s think about this for a second. If he truly cared for his wife, he would care about his health. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to premature death. The symptoms that Harry experiences every night are dangerous. Therefore, if something happens to him, his wife will be left without her husband.
“I know I have sleep apnea, but I don’t want to admit it.” I’m sure many sleep apnea sufferers can relate. We all know someone who snores loudly, and if they aren’t snoring that means they’re having a hard time falling asleep. You tell them how loud they snore and they admit to it, but now what? You ask them to get tested, but they don’t want to. Why? “Well, I would rather snore than use a huge mask over my face to sleep for the rest of my life.” With 80% of moderate to severe sleep apnea cases left undiagnosed, the health consequences of doing nothing can be catastrophic!
If you’ve heard this before, tell the “sleep apnea sufferer” to do his research on treatment options. If he is diagnosed with sleep apnea there are many different types of masks to choose from. Not only can you find hundreds of different types of mask online, you can be fitted for a mask when initially receiving the machine to find one that is comfortable for you. Yes, many people who receive the PAP machine are skeptical because they don’t want to use the machine to begin with, but it doesn’t hurt to try, right? It may take a few nights to get used to, but after the first few days, it becomes part of your normal sleep routine. Most people who receive PAP therapy are grateful because they are finally able to experience a restful night’s sleep.
PAP therapy is not the only option; there are several options available that you can discuss with your physician when you have completed your home sleep test. There are recommendations on your sleep study results that are provided by our board-certified sleep medicine physicians who interpret the results. An alternative option is to be fitted for an oral appliance. Weight loss or surgery are also options that can be discussed with your physician. Just remember, you have options and the best treatment is the one that you will follow.
If you have questions about the home sleep testing process please call us. We’re here to help you!