• Southeast Wisconsin
  • November 2013
Written by  Karen Block

Sleepless through the ages

Sleep apnea is a hot health topic these days, yet it’s been a debilitating and often fatal disorder for quite some time. It’s widely known that Reggie White’s death was attributed to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but long before that, President Howard Taft was also afflicted with the condition. Indeed, OSA has affected people of all ages, genders and sizes through the ages.

OSA is dangerous because it essentially causes a person to stop breathing during sleep, often for up to a minute. And it’s not uncommon for these pauses in breathing to occur hundreds of times a night. Left untreated, OSA can not only decrease a person’s quality of life (due to excessive daytime sleepiness), but also result in serious health concerns including:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Fatigue-related motor vehicle accidents
  • Work-related accidents

Many sufferers are unaware that they have OSA. Often, the partners or roommates of these individuals identify excessive snoring — often characterized by moments of silence followed by a “gasping” for air — as an issue.

Common symptoms of OSA include: excessive daytime fatigue, insomnia, loud snoring, dry mouth, morning headaches, uncontrolled high blood pressure, increasing blood sugars, and decreased libido or erectile dysfunction. If you have noticed any of these, seek diagnosis and treatment.

While it’s commonly thought that OSA predominantly afflicts middle-aged, overweight men (typically with a neck size > 17 inches), it’s becoming apparent that women and even children as young as ten years old can suffer from the condition. So, no matter your age, gender or size, if there is a concern, you should seek diagnosis. It’s easy to diagnose OSA with a sleep study conducted at a certified sleep testing facility.

Sleep experts advise that people start with a free ApneaLink home sleep screening if they are not certain of the need for a full sleep study. The ApneaLink is a simple, portable device that can be taken home for a night and brought back to the sleep center the next morning. This screening detects abnormal breathing patterns during sleep to help determine if a full sleep study is needed.

It is recommended that people choose to have their studies conducted in “well facilities” that specialize in sleep medicine, and that they take time to shop around to make sure their insurance plans are compatible. People are also advised to be careful with facilities that want to charge them upfront.

With more and more patients taking control of their health costs today, providers are becoming accustomed to phone inquiries about the total cost of services, so no one should be tentative about asking. What many individuals find is that a very wide range of charges exists for similar services.

If you or someone you know shows signs of OSA, take action today. Early diagnosis and treatment can save a life! 


Karen Block is the owner/administrator of Endeavor Therapy & Sleep Center, 11649 North Port Washington Road in Mequon, a sleep diagnostic facility that is offering free ApneaLink™ sleep screenings as a community awareness project to help educate people about their sleep. Endeavor is open seven nights a week for their patients’ convenience and is one-quarter of the cost of the hospital sleep labs. For more information about sleep issues or to schedule your free ApneaLink™ sleep screening, call 262-241-8892 or visit http://endeavortherapyandsleep.com.

 

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