Sleep Apnea, The Noisy Sleeper

NOISY SLEEPERS

Out of the mouth of babes, snores are rarely heard. Snoring increases with age. It's caused by the partial obstruction of the airway during sleep. About 40 percent of the adult population snores. Snoring is more common among those who are middle-aged or older and overweight.

THE SLEEP APNEA CYCLE

During the night........

-Breathing stops.
-Blood oxygen levels drop.
-Individual wakes briefly, gasps for breath.
-Repeat.

Next day.......
Sleepiness is excessive

SNORING MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH DAYTIME SLEEPINESS.

Loud snoring puncuated by multiple, nightly brief episodes of breathing cessation suggest the presence of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea, like snoring, is more common among obese. However, in elderly people, the obesity-sleep apnea connection is far less pronounced. Sleep apnea occurs in 13 percent of males and 6 percent of women. in males over 60, the figure rises to 28 percent; for women, the number climbs to 24 percent.

Sleep apnea is treatable. Unfortunately, the vast majority of sufferers do not know they have the disorder. It is often a bed partner's concernthat triggers diagnosis and treatment. Sadly, sleep apnea is linked to a three to seven time increase in risk for falling asleep at the wheel. Sleep apnea may also lead to many other medical complications including congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension. Diagnosis and treatment are important.

What does the diagnosis entail? For a comprehensive evaluation, individuals should seek referral to the Rocky Mountain Sleep Disorders Center. In an overnight sleep study at our facility, individuals are monitored by noninvasive polysomnographic equipment that measures respiration (breathing) and through EEG (brain wave) readings. If the disorder is mild, our sleep specialist may recommend weight loss, use of pillows and/or change in sleep position (avoiding lying on ones back), and abstinence regarding alcohol and sedatives which worsen apnea. However, if the disordered breathing is moderate to severe, a device known as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is in order. This device gently propels air into the airway, keeping it open. Treatment with dental devices and surgery are otherwise alternatives to be considered.

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