Sleep apnea affects millions of people, and very often it remains undiagnosed. It is a sleep disorder in which the nasal passages are blocked during sleep for brief intervals. It can have many adverse health effects, ranging from tiredness and irritability due to interrupted sleep to serious illness like stroke and heart disease. Once diagnosed, sleep apnea can be treated. Sleep apnea solutions like continuous positive airway pressure machine can help sufferers get unbroken sleep, but they take some effort to use.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which the nasal passages are blocked several times an hour, for brief intervals, during sleep. There can be as many as 60 episodes of obstructed sleep apnea per hour, on average. This results in interrupted or disturbed sleep, which can have a serious impact on the health.
At a minimum, interrupted sleep on a regular basis can lead to tiredness, irritability and even danger in operating heavy machinery or driving. It has also been linked to greater risk of serious illness like stroke. Sleep apnea sufferers are four times more likely to be at risk of stroke, and three times more likely to suffer heart disease.
Diagnosing sleep apnea
It can be difficult to diagnose sleep apnea, since the episodes occur when the sufferer is asleep. This means that it can be identified only if another person, who is familiar with the symptoms, is present when the sufferer is sleeping. Home sleep tests can help in cases where an individual is known to suffer from the symptoms.
Given the difficulty in diagnosing sleep apnea, it is estimated that one out of 50 individuals may suffer from the disorder. That could be as many as 18 million Americans. Men are twice as likely as women to suffer from sleep apnea. Once diagnosed, sleep apnea products like nasal pillows and continuous positive airway pressure (or CPAP) machines can help sufferers.
Sleep apnea products and treatment
Sleep apnea products like CPAP machines can help sufferers gain a night of uninterrupted sleep, reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease. However, using continuous positive airway pressure machines can take some getting used to, and many people are disinclined to make the effort. In fact, about half of all people who are prescribed CPAP machines as treatment report that they use them for just one to three weeks before stopping.
A vast majority, or 80% of patients who use CPAP machines nevertheless don’t use them for as long as they should. In fact, they report not using the machines for even the minimum amount of time needed for safety. There is a minimum time period for which CPAP machines should be used to be effective, and to ensure continued insurance coverage. This minimum is pegged at four hours a night, of 70% of the time for a 30 day period.
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that frequently goes undiagnosed. Treatments include using continuous positive airway pressure machines, which can improve the sufferer?s safety and health outcomes. However, CPAP machines take some effort to use, and many sufferers discontinue use. With some effort, they can achieve the minimum usage necessary for safety and continued insurance coverage.