". . . our stories are what make the difference, and if we can tell them honestly we can hope to help each other. In the end, we have nothing to offer each other but our stories." ~ Emma Lou Thayne

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Awareness: Sleep Apnea - What's YOUR CAUSE?

This week I've chosen to feature
AWARENESS for Sleep Apnea! 
Perhaps me procrastinating so long for following through for the final steps of the process for getting set up with my CPAP has something to do with this. I am scheduled for that TODAY... My doctor is sure that following through with the treatment for my sleep apnea will resolve many of my health issues and give me a much better quality of life. I hope and pray he is right. Perhaps after I've been using it a while I can do a follow up post on the resulting effects for me. 
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The following information is from: 

snoring is no laughing matter pictureThe Greek word "apnea" literally means "without breath." There are three types of apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed; of the three, obstructive is the most common. Despite the difference in the root cause of each type, in all three, people with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. In central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. Mixed apnea, as the name implies, is a combination of the two. With each apnea event, the brain briefly arouses people with sleep apnea in order for them to resume breathing, but consequently sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality.
Sleep apnea is very common, as common as adult diabetes, and affects more than twelve million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. Risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age of forty, but sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, even children. Yet still because of the lack of awareness by the public and healthcare professionals, the vast majority remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated, despite the fact that this serious disorder can have significant consequences.
Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, and headaches. Moreover, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle crashes. Fortunately, sleep apnea can be diagnosed and treated. Several treatment options exist, and research into additional options continues.

The following is an excerpt from: 
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea 

Most people with sleep apnea are unaware they suffer from it as most of the symptoms are most noticeable while you are sleeping. If you’re in one of the high risk categories or think you may have it then ask your bed partner if they notice any of the following:

Common Sleep Apnea Signs And Symptoms

  • Excessively loud or chronic snoring
  • Long pauses in breathing
  • Shallow breathing
  • Struggling to breathe properly (including choking, snorting or gasping for air)
  • Sleepiness during the day, no matter how long you sleep for.
Tip! If you sleep alone then you can set up a video camera or voice recorder to see if you have any of the symptoms or signs of sleep apnea.

Less Common Signs And Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea:

  • Needing to use the toilet frequently at night
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Waking up with a sore throat
  • Insomnia
  • ADHD (mostly in children with sleep apnea)/Difficulty concerntrating
  • Restless sleep
  • Waking up suddenly for no apparent reason
  • Morning headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Impotence/lack of interest in sex
If you or your bed partner notice any of the signs/symptoms then it’s extremely important to consult your local doctor or a sleep specialist to get a professional diagnosis. This usually involves undertaking a sleep study or sleep apnea test. While it can be a serious (even life threatening) condition it’s also entirely treatable and most people go on to live normal lives with a few minor inconveniences.

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The American Sleep Apnea Association
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea 
Both of these sites have a wealth of knowledge on the subject. Please don't be as stubborn as me with finding out if sleep apnea could be causing your ailments.  
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