Helpware: A Clean Night’s Sleep

By Harold Glicken
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Some 80 percent of sleep apnea patients aren’t diagnosed. They live with all the effects of sleep apnea without knowing why they’re snoring, gasping for air and not being able to stay asleep.

Tribune News Service

If your neighbors in the next county complain about your snoring, chances are good that you’re among the estimated 22 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea.

Despite its depiction as “ZZZZ’s” in comic strips, snoring is no laughing matter.

Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart problems, diabetes and other serious problems.

It occurs when throat muscles relax and a patient can’t get enough air to stay asleep. Some patients, monitored in a sleep lab, wake up briefly 30 times an hour in severe cases.

By morning they may have a monster headache from lack of oxygen. Since snorers don’t get enough sleep at night, often they’re sleepy during the day.

Americans don’t get enough sleep to begin with; imagine how risky it is to drive after a fitful night of snoring. Or how difficult it is to stay awake during long business meetings.

Sleep apnea can be triggered by such conditions as being overweight, smoking and having nasal congestion. Men are twice as likely as women to have sleep apnea.

But some 80 percent of sleep apnea patients aren’t diagnosed. They live with all the effects of sleep apnea without knowing why they’re snoring, gasping for air and not being able to stay asleep.

Once a diagnosis is made, patients have options, such as losing weight. But the one option that has immediate results is using a CPAP machine.

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It helps to make sure that air is forced in by using an air-tight mask. Expect to pay at least $500 for a CPAP machine. Some cost much more.

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