Sleep apnea is a potentially serious, but fairly common sleep condition in which the affected person’s breathing stops and starts repeatedly in their sleep, due to obstruction, failed brain messages, or a combination of both. The condition affects about 18 million Americans and is usually treated with the addition of a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, and is used to keep the patient’s airways open. When left untreated, it can be extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening. Here are some things you probably didn’t know about sleep apnea:
- About one in 50 people are living with an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea. These people most likely differ from loud snoring, extreme tiredness (hypersomnia) or difficulty sleeping (insomnia), and morning symptoms such as dry mouth or morning headaches.
- The condition affects double the amount of men that it does women, especially obese men. But this statistic falls apart with age.
Post-menopausal women are nearly just as likely to be affected by the condition.
- About half of people prescribed CPAP machines stop using them within three weeks, and most people who say that they do use them do not wear their CPAP masks enough to be effective. It’s recommended that patients use their CPAP machines for at least four hours every night for 30 consecutive days.
- Heart disease is three times more common in people with untreated sleep apnea, and about 38,000 deaths occur every year due to cardiovascular issues at least partly caused by sleep apnea.
- Traditional CPAP masks wrap around the entire head, but a less-bulky version, known as nasal pillows, are also available. Despite it’s lighter, less obtrusive qualities, patients’ preference lean just slightly toward the traditional masks at 50%, while 45% prefer nasal pillow masks, and 5% have no preference.
- People with asthma are 40% more likely to develop sleep apnea due to preexisting breathing problems.
- Over the course of one knight, someone with a case of obstructive sleep apnea may experience an apnea 60 times per hour.
If you or someone you know suffers from loud snoring, continued fatigue, headaches, dry mouth, shortness of breath, or other difficulties breathing or sleeping, they may be suffering from this condition. Make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible for a diagnosis and treatment.