Do you have a bad snoring problem at night? Do you wake up feeling tired in the morning? You may have sleep apnea, a condition that you share with almost 20 million other people in the United States. Sleep apnea has been proven to contribute to a number of health problems, especially those related to the heart. Even more troubling, between two to four percent of Americans haven’t been diagnosed with sleep apnea — meaning that about one in fifty people don’t know they have sleep apnea. Luckily, there are measures that can help relieve sleep apnea, usually under the umbrella term of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) solutions.
What Is Sleep Apnea And What Causes It?
Sleep apnea only occurs in your sleep, when you have multiple pauses in your breathing. These pauses can be as short as seconds or be up to minutes long. What’s happening is your airway is collapsing or is somehow blocked in your sleep; when normal breathing resumes, it’s usually with a choking sound or snort. Snores happen when a small amount of air is able to get around the blockage.
Sleep apnea causes are usually due to genetic effects — if your airway is smaller than usual, if your throat muscles or tongue tend to be more relaxed, or you have large tonsils. However, being overweight can also contribute to sleep apnea.
Why Can Sleep Apnea Be Dangerous?
If you have sleep apnea and don’t address it, you have a four percent higher chance of having a stroke than those without sleep apnea and are three times more likely to have heart disease later in life. The National Sleep Commission on Sleep Disorders has produced research that states almost 40,000 deaths happen every year because of cardiovascular issue that are tied to sleep apnea in some way. It’s also important for men to get checked out for sleep apnea, since it’s twice as common for them to have it than a woman.
What CPAP Solutions Can I Seek Out?
CPAP is a treatment used with sleep apnea patients. Essentially, it gives you more air using a mild air pressure in order to keep your airway open and your breathing regular. These can come in the form of CPAP masks, CPAP nasal pillows, or CPAP machines, depending on how serious your sleep apnea is.
There are a number of CPAP masks available to cater to individual needs. The most common CPAP mask is simply a nasal mask that doesn’t cover your whole face. Some people find these easier to sleep with and less disruptive.There is usually a tube that attaches to a machine, which distributes pressure into the mask and helps open up your airway. People are pretty split on what they prefer –a bout 50% prefer the nasal pillow option, while 45% would rather use the nasal mask.
To achieve the desired result (and to qualify for insurance), you have to use CPAP a minimum of 70% of the time in a 30 day time frame for 4 hours a night.
If you think you might be suffering from sleep apnea, talk to your doctor right away and look into CPAP solutions for your health.