Facts about sleep disorders and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep disorders and sleep apnea among males

80%of people getting unsatisfying sleep go undiagnosed; there are an estimated 50-70 million Americans with chronic sleep disorders. Sleep deficiency leads to serious health issues, traffic accidents and fatalities, and premature deaths across the country.
Sleep disorders and sleep apnea among females

An estimated 18 million Americans are living with sleep apnea, that equals about 1 out of every 15 Americans. Data shows that of those, approximately 1 out of every 50 Americans have an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea. It’s a problem that has reached near epidemic proportions. The problem goes well beyond simply not getting a good night’s sleep. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, obstructive sleep apnea can have some serious implications. When sleep apnea is left untreated, you have an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and diabetes. It can also increase the risk of, or worsen, heart failure.

Why is it Often Overlooked?

Sleep apnea if often overlooked because its symptoms are very broad. Beyond sleep disruptions and other bedtime symptoms—other symptoms could be depression, fatigue, trouble concentrating, a dry mouth and sore throat. A 2013 study led by UCLA suggests that women are less likely than men to be diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. The study also found evidence that women with sleep apnea are more profoundly affected in the areas of the brain that regulate mood and decision-making. While men often report symptoms such as snoring, gasping for air or snorting; women often report symptoms like fatigue, anxiety and depression.

How to Test for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

By treating sleep apnea, you significantly reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, diabetes, and accidents resulting from daytime fatigue and lack of concentration. The most common way to test for sleep apnea is by starting with an overnight oximetry test—it tests the oxygen concentration in your blood. Depending on your oxygen levels throughout the night, your physician may be able to tell whether you have sleep apnea. Abnormal drops in your oxygen levels, called desaturations, could indicate sleep apnea. If your results show that your heart rate increased during the night, it could be an additional indicator.

What’s Next?

Oximetry tests are loved by patients and physicians because they are non-invasive, inexpensive, and easy to do at home. In some cases, addition testing is required to get a proper diagnosis. Physicians often prescribe a home sleep test to determine whether you have sleep apnea and how severe it is.

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above on a regular basis, it may be time to speak with your doctor about your symptoms and getting tested. With proper testing and diagnosis, your physician will be able to prescribe a treatment that will allow you to finally have a good night’s sleep and improve your quality of life.

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