Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) -- a potentially life-threatening disease involving episodes of complete or partial airway obstruction during sleep -- is dangerously on the rise. The disease afflicts at least 25 million American adults, and most of them remain untreated, increasing their risk of cardiac disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Fortunately, many of the damaging effects of sleep apnea can be stopped, and even reversed, through diagnosis and treatment. It's critical that anyone with risk factors or symptoms of OSA pledge to stop the snore and talk to a doctor about sleep apnea. How do you know if that includes you or a family member? Here are five warning signs:
- Snoring. Besides being a nuisance to your bed partner or roommate, loud and frequent snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea. While not everyone who snores has this sleep illness, snoring is a warning sign that should be taken seriously.
If two or more of these signs and symptoms describe you, then you have a high risk for OSA and should talk to a doctor about sleep apnea. To find a local sleep specialist at an AASM-accredited sleep center, visit stopsnoringpledge.org.
After speaking with your doctor, he or she may decide you need an objective sleep study, which will provide the data needed to make an accurate diagnosis. Once diagnosed, the most commonly recommended treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which provides gently pressurized air through a mask, keeping your airway open and making it easier to breathe. For patients who are unable to tolerate CPAP, or who seek alternatives, knowledgeable sleep specialists may be able to offer other treatments.
For more information or to pledge to stop the snore and talk to a doctor about sleep apnea, visit projecthealthysleep.org.