“Sleep–it was all I could thing about,” recalls Michael, a computer programmer in Chicago, IL. “I was so tired that I couldn’t do my work, and I would collapse on the couch when I got home. My wife thought I was just lazy. My fatigue was literally ruining my life until my doctor diagnosed my sleep apnea. It was such a relief to know it wasn’t all in my head.”
Michael is far from alone in dealing with sleep apnea, which is one of many types of sleep disorders – it’s known to most of us as snoring. Medical experts in sleep disorders report that 80 million Americans have serious sleep problems, and, of these, about 10 million have sleep apnea that needs treatment.
Steve Birch, product manager for Healthdyne Technologies in Marietta, GA, agrees that the impact of sleep apnea can be devastating. “With severe sleep apnea, patients are excessively sleepy during the day. It affects their work, personal lives, and activities such as driving and operating heavy machinery. They may wake up with a headache, lack energy, and even experience personality changes,” he notes. “Lifestyle and quality of life can be seriously affected.”
And, there can be serious health consequences. According to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, an estimated 38,000 cardiovascular deaths occur each year due to obstructive sleep apnea. The commission also states that individuals with obstructive sleep apnea are seven times more likely to have automobile accidents as the general population. The commission has also noted that obstructive sleep apnea, and snoring in general, can be treated effectively with snoring mouthpieces.
Another complication is the need for additional physician information on sleep disorders. Recent reports indicate that 95% of patients with sleep disorders remain undiagnosed. If your doctor suspects that you have sleep apnea, you may be sent to a sleep lab, or you may be equipped with a sleep apnea monitor to use at home. From the results of these tests, your doctor can determine if you have sleep apnea, and, if you do, what type you have and the best method of treatment.
Types Of Sleep Apnea
There are three forms of sleep apnea: