Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that is far more common than generally understood.
It is a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. It owes its name to a Greek word, apnea, meaning "want of breath." Obstructive sleep apnea is a particular type of snoring — loud and punctuated by choking silences when breathing actually stops. It wreaks havoc with sleep quality, causing daytime drowsiness, and often cognitive impairment.
In a given night, the number of involuntary breathing pauses or "apnea events" may be as high as 20 to 30 or more per hour. These breathing pauses are almost always accompanied by snoring between apnea episodes, although not everyone who snores has this condition. One person had over 700 episodes during his 6-hour test. No wonder he was tired all the time.
Sleep apnea can also be characterized by choking sensations. The frequent interruptions of deep, restorative sleep often lead to early morning headaches and excessive daytime sleepiness. Fatigue can be a possible symptom of sleep apnea in perimenopausal women.
Early recognition and treatment of sleep apnea is important because it may be associated with irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Unfortunately, sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. According to a recent report from the National Sleep Commission, "physicians tend not to ask their patients about sleep. Frequently thought of as a "male sleep apnea is especially overlooked in women. The feminine "pear-shaped" distribution of body fat may protect younger women from developing sleep apnea, but menopause-related weight gain in the upper body favors the later onset of sleep apnea. Not only do people with sleep apnea suffer daytime fatigue and drowsiness, they are at higher risk for motor vehicle and other accidents.
Sleep apnea is also a risk factor for systemic hypertension, pulmonary hypertension, stroke, and heart disease. Surgery is more dangerous for patients with undiagnosed sleep apnea, because they may stop breathing while under anesthesia. In patients who are successfully treated for the condition, the improvement is often striking.
Because sleep apnea is gradual in onset, patients often do not realize how much it has affected their lives. They report improvements in energy, mood, libido, mental abilities, and social functioning.
Signs and symptoms of sleep anea or other sleep disorders
Take this test:
- Do you snore? (Not always a factor, but is in many cases.)
- Do you wake up frequently during the night?
- Are you sleepy during the daytime?
- Do you often wake up feeling like you have not slept at all despite getting enough hours of sleep in?
- Does a family member ever see or hear you "stop" breathing?
- Do you ever fall asleep during a conversation?
- Have your mental capabilities slowed down making it harder for you to remember things, make decisions, or concentrate?
- Do your legs jerk during sleep sometimes to the point of disturbing your partner?
- During your waking hours, have you ever found yourself suddenly waking up, and time has lapsed? Prior to this happening you had no warning of the impending drowsiness.
Nocturnal ventilators are used by individuals with severe respiratory failure who can no longer sustain the mechanics of breathing without the assistance of a ventilator.
State-of-the-art equipment combined with clinical expertise and a strong commitment to education and training provide the most stable home environment for the ventilator-dependent patient.
You can rest assured with the confidence of knowing that a local company will be there when you need us. Your health is our number one concern.