Sleep Apnea – might you have sleep apnea? What are your treatment options?

Sleep Apnea is a common but seemingly ignored condition in the western world.  Lagging it seemsstar wars not far behind Diabetes Type 2 as a medical condition and often with a similar profile of sufferers.  In fact between 3-7% of middle aged men and around 2.5% of women of that age have sleep apnea.

So what actually is sleep apnea?

Simply put it is abnormal breathing during sleep.  With obstructive sleep apnea (the most common kind) there is physical obstacle impeding breathing during sleep.  In many cases this is due to obesity.  The net result is, of course, a bad night’s sleep and the person with sleep apnea is unable to get the rest she or he needs.

The symptoms can include

a)      Snoring.

b)      Fatigue due to poor sleep.  For more information on fatigue please have a look at our previous blog http://patienttalk.org/?p=239.

c)       Poor concentration during the day due to tiredness and possible cognitive dysfunction.

d)      Altered emotional states are common, in particular, moodiness.

e)      From long term sleep apnea depression seems to be a likely outcome.

If any of these apply to you it is important that you discuss these symptoms with a healthcare professional.

A problem is that the person with undiagnosed sleep apnea does not realise that they have sleep apnea because they are asleep when the apneas take place.

But the good news is that there are treatments.  These include:-

  • Medications which encourage improved respiration such as acetazolamide.
  • For people with mild to moderate sleep apnea dentists can produce a mouthpiece which opens the bite slightly thus increasing the airflow.  This is called a mandibular advancement splint.
  • For more severe sleep apnea a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device is used.  This pumps air into the patient’s nose and mouth increasing air to the lungs and promoting easier sleep.
  • In some rare cases surgery is used when other strategies to cure sleep apnea have failed.

As part of this blog we would be very interested to hear your views and experiences of sleep apnea.  In particular it would be great if you could consider the following questions:-

1)      Have you ever been diagnosed with sleep apnea?

2)      What were the symptoms of your sleep apnea?

3)      What tests were you given to make the diagnosis?

4)      What treatments for sleep apnea were you given?  How successful were these treatments?

If you could use the comments box below to contribute any of your thoughts that would be great.

You might be interested to know that in the UK the condition is spelt sleep apnoea?  Divided by language as always.

8 comments
overdo08
overdo08

I was diagnosed with narcolepsy a few years back but recently did a sleep study which showed I stopped breathing 116 times. As a result I am in the process of getting a CPAP machine.

LisaGesbockerDriessen
LisaGesbockerDriessen

I have been diagnosed with obstructive Sleep Apnea for several years now.  I have had a CPAP machine for that whole time, and I find that it does not help that much.  I still wake up absolutely exhausted.  I have had at least 4 sleep studies with 1 daytime sleep study for narcolepsy.  I just don't know what else to do.

Earlsh
Earlsh

I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and put on a CPAP. I can sleep eight hours with it and still wake up tired and sleepy. It doesn't seem to help me at all.

EvonneWingardLoewe
EvonneWingardLoewe

Yes I was told I had sleep apnea at least 5 years ago

them came down with an allergy to my cpap mask . So I took it upon myself to self treat the problem. I lost weight 200 lbs. .

But needless to say it didn't work 2 years after my weight loss i'm falling asleep again. I have my appointment tomorrow with the Dr  to see what he has to say. I'll let you know.

Oxfordmum
Oxfordmum

I have just been diagnosed with severe sleep apnoea and am waiting for a cpap machine.


Antoinette Mulder
Antoinette Mulder

@EvonneWingardLoewe 

It did mine too I'm am not that tired anymore and I have a lot more energy although I cannot utilize the energy as much as I want to, because I have Pulmonary Hypertention, Interstitial Lung Disease and Rhumatoid Arthritis. 

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