Sleep Apnea is the intermittent absence of breathing during sleep.The apneas or pauses in breathing can happen many times during sleep and in severe sleep apnea some people may have as many as 500 apneas per night.
Sleep Apnea is easily identified by a Sleep Specialist or Respirologist and can be effectively treated.
Sleep apnea is often called the snoring disease because snoring is a common symptom. Snoring followed by silent pauses and daytime sleepiness are strong indicators for sleep apnea. Those who experience these two key symptoms should consult their doctor and seek a referral to a Respirologist for assessment and testing.
Other symptoms include
High blood pressure, gasping or choking at night, mental deterioration, lack of concentration or memory loss, poor judgment, irritability, depression, obesity, large thick neck, morning headaches, repeatedly waking at night to pass urine, restless sleep, and sexual impotence.
In the past, the prevalence of sleep apnea was 2% of women and 4% of men in the general population but recently new statistics reveal a much higher prevalence. In a recent meta-analysis Terry Young, Paul E. Peppard and Daniel Gottleib estimate that one in every five adults (20%) has at least mild sleep apnea and that one in every fifteen adults (6.6%) has at least moderate sleep apnea. This new information raises the importance of sleep apnea as a health risk. The current health system in Saskatchewan is unprepared to cope with the rising numbers of those affected by sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects both genders and all ages including 3% of children.
This is a serious and in some cases a life-threatening condition affecting many people who may be unaware they have the disorder. Often the person affected thinks they had a good sleep until others mention the loud snoring and pauses in breathing. Most people go to the doctor because they are always tired even after what they consider a good night's sleep.
What happens without treatment?
If sleep apnea is left untreated the consequences can be very serious. Related medical conditions that may develop if sleep apnea is untreated are:
High blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, stroke, vehicle accident due to sleepiness, work related injury or injury from operating equipment while sleepy, decreased quality of life and difficulty in relationships.