Sleep is a basic necessity of life. It is as important to our health and well-being as air, food and water. When we get a good night’s sleep, we awake feeling refreshed, alert and ready to face the many challenges of our daily routine. When we don’t get a good night’s sleep, we suffer. Our jobs, relationships, productivity, health and safety—as well as the safety of those around us—are put at risk.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 74 percent of American adults are experiencing a sleeping problem and more than one-third are so sleepy during the day that it interferes with daily activities.
Sleep apnea and snoring, which affect 4 percent of adult men and 2 percent of adult women, are no laughing matter. “He snored so loud, he peeled the paint off the walls……When she snores, she sounds like a jackhammer.” We’ve all heard these jokes, but snoring is no laughing matter. Loud snoring may be a signal that something is seriously wrong with your breathing during sleep.
Snoring is a sign that the airway is not fully open and that air is being forced through a narrow passageway. While 10 percent to 30 percent of adults snore, for most of them, snoring has no serious consequences.
However, for 2 percent to 4 percent of adults, loud habitual snoring is the first indication of a potentially life-threatening disorder—obstructive sleep apnea. Those who suffer with sleep apnea don’t breathe properly during sleep. They don’t get enough oxygen and their sleep quality is poor.
Look for the warning signs of sleep apnea:
• Extremely loud snoring
• Repeating patterns of “snore, pause, gasp” revealing breathing stops and starts
• Waking up frequently
• Extreme sleepiness during the day
• Falling asleep while at work or while driving
• Workplace accidents or car crashes
• Concentration difficulties
• Lost productivity
• Mood or behavior changes
• More frequent illnesses
• Morning headaches
• Loss of interest in sex
• Male erectile failure
• Children’s or adolescent’s poor school performance
Obstructive sleep apnea most often strikes overweight adults.
Excessive fatty tissue may partially block the entrance to the airway or may narrow the airway, causing the airway to collapse.
Female hormones and a difference in throat anatomy may protect women until menopause. However, as women age, they become more susceptible to obstructive sleep apnea.
There is usually no obvious physical abnormality beyond obesity that interferes with a person’s breathing during sleep, but some physical conditions can play a role. A smaller-than-normal jaw, large tongue, nasal obstructions and enlarged tonsils can be factors which can cause obstructive sleep apnea.
People who do not seek diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea may suffer life-threatening consequences in addition to a decreased quality of life. If you suspect a sleep disorder, bring it to the attention of your physician. If you have many of the “warning signs” for sleep apnea and you do not seek medical care, you may be increasing your risk for: high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and fatigue-related motor vehicle and work accidents. An overnight sleep study in a sleep disorder laboratory may be needed for your physician to properly diagnose and treat your sleep disorder.
Fayette County Memorial Hospital partners with Adena Pulmonology to provide pulmonary care from diagnosis to testing. If you suspect you have a problem and want to see a sleep specialist, call Adena Pulmonology 740-779-8700 to schedule an appointment at Fayette County Memorial Hospital.
Already have an order for a sleep test? Call the Sleep Lab at 866-320-8989 to discuss options for testing at the Sleep Center or in the comfort of your own home.
Fayette County Memorial Hospital Sleep Lab is located in Medical Arts Building 2, Suite 325 3rd Floor 1510, Columbus Ave. Washington Court House, and is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
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