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Food for thought

Could You Have Sleep Apnea — Without Knowing It?

By February 26, 2019 No Comments

What do snoring, daytime sleepiness and mood changes have in common?

They’re all signs of sleep apnea, a common disorder in both men and women.

“Sleep apnea is grossly under-recognized,” says Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, MS. “We estimate that 85 to 90 percent of people with sleep apnea in this country don’t know they have it.”

A 2013 study shows that the number of people with known sleep apnea continues to grow, affecting:

  • 10 percent of men aged 30 to 49, and 17 percent of men aged 50 to 70.
  • 3 percent of women aged 30 to 49, and 9 percent of women aged 50 to 70.

“These numbers have risen substantially since the 1990s, as Baby Boomers age and our obesity epidemic worsens,” says Dr. Foldvary.

What happens during sleep apnea

In sleep apnea, episodes of upper airway collapse interrupt your breathing so that oxygen can’t reach your cells.

“Each time your body has to restore normal breathing and oxygen levels, you’re briefly aroused from sleep,” says Dr. Foldvary. “This fragments the brain waves that characterize different sleep stages, leading to daytime sleepiness, fatigue and a host of other symptoms.”

If you have 15 or more of these episodes per hour, your apnea is considered moderate to severe. And the health impact is enormous.

“Most people don’t realize untreated apnea increases your risk of stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure,” she says. “If you have atrial fibrillation, sleep apnea doubles your odds for having a recurrence. If you have heart failure, it increases your risk of hospital admission.”

Sleep apnea also raises your risk of motor vehicle accidents, work-related injuries and accidents, and academic underachievement at all ages, even in early childhood.

Most telling: Worldwide, people with obstructive apnea rate their quality of life worse in every dimension.

 

Read the full original article by clicking here.