Winning the battle against sleep apnea

Winning the battle against sleep apnea

Each night, many sleeping Americans battle with a chronic enemy—sleep apnea, and unfortunately, they don’t even know it. According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep apnea plagues nearly 50 million Americans – preventing them from receiving a good night’s rest. The best way to overcome this enemy can be as simple as a phone call to your primary care physician.

Sleep apnea is one of the most common forms of sleep or wakefulness disorders. It occurs when the airways become partially or completely blocked, causing a sleeper to snore. In some cases, a sleeper may even experience short breathing pauses throughout the night.

While the breathing disruptions are brief, lasting seconds to a few minutes, they may happen repeatedly—30 or more times—during the course of an hour. When this disruption occurs, it causes the brain to wake from sleep to help the body resume breathing. Often, the frequent breathing pauses frighten a bed partner, who hears his or her sleep companion snoring loudly or struggling to breathe.

Physicians typically assess whether a patient is indeed suffering from sleep apnea by asking questions about the family history. They may also have the patient participate in a sleep study where they are monitored while sleeping.

“Each year, more Americans are diagnosed with sleep apnea,” says Dr. Muhammad Hamadeh, pulmonologist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. According to a study published in the American Heart Association journal, the increased rates of sleep apnea are linked to higher rates of obesity, a problem that affects one in three Americans.

Light at the end of the tunnel
One of the best tools in the fight against sleep apnea is a device called the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The CPAP machine helps to provide a steady flow of oxygen to patients during their restful periods virtually eliminating the continuous sleep disruptions.

“The machine has improved in recent years, providing greater patient comfort and increased airflow to meet patient demands,” says Dr. Hamadeh. Oral devices similar to mouth guards also can be prescribed to those diagnosed with mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea, he adds.

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  1. Julie Nakis

    It’s great that there is technology out there like the CPAP machine that can help to alleviate sleep apnea.

    • Technology is great. However how many people with CPAPs actually use them? Very little. They are noisy (yes, even the newer ones). They take up valuable space in the bedroom. Many of us have a difficult time trying to sleep on our backs. The hospital sleep study used one brand/kind of CPAP and the required supplies used another brand. After the initial fitting and service, the supplier gets lost and you have no support. The mouth guards sounds great. Again the decision of which one is best for you is determined on which brand the supplies provides My dental surgeon(I’m sorry, your dental surgeon) stretched my jaw to the point of hurting my mandible(TMJ). 1 yrs. later, I’m still in pain. My wife, who is a nurse practioner. is very upset and concerned. We are both professionals and feel like we have no support, yet the provider got over $2,500 for an unused CPAP and the dental surgeon got over $2,500 for an appliance that actually caused me harm. . Yes, I know one person who uses his CPAP. All others I know who have a CPAP don’t use them.

  2. Toni Mooney Gardner May 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm · Reply

    This is excellent information!

  3. I thank goodness every morning that my physician issued a referral for a sleep evaluation. I was diagnosed in 2004 and can’t imagine NOT sleeping with my CPAP machine. I was literally falling asleep behind the wheel at each and every stop light. Thought I was just exhausted with an awful case of working mom sleepiness syndrome. If you know anyone experiencing sleep apnea symptoms, please become their health and wellness Advocate and forward this article to them. Thanks for the article Tony!

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.