Blogs > Sleeping with CPAP

Assistant News Editor Lee Dryden was diagnosed with sleep apnea and uses a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to assist with breathing while sleeping. From a layman’s point of view, he will discuss the benefits, issues, challenges and frustrations of sleeping while wearing a mask.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The epidemic of undiagnosed sleep apnea

  The numbers are in — and they’re not surprising.
  Like the rest of the world, visitors to The Oakland Press website know people with sleep apnea that has yet to be treated.
  I put up a poll question this week that asks, “Do you suspect someone you know has undiagnosed sleep apnea?”
  Out of 188 responses, 65 percent responded yes.
  The Sleep Disorders Guide website estimates 18 million Americans have sleep apnea and 2 to 4 percent of all Americans have undiagnosed apnea.
  The most shocking statistic: about 90 percent of cases may be undiagnosed, according to Kights Medical.
  It’s tough for sleep apnea sufferers to diagnose themselves because, well, they are asleep. That’s where the spouses come in.
  They should watch for snoring and gasping for air numerous times throughout the night as breathing is interrupted as the airway is blocked. Symptoms include morning headaches, dry mouth, forgetfulness and weight gain, according to Highlands Today.
  Then get to a doctor, who can decide a course of treatment such as CPAP, which stands for (say it with me, once again) continuous positive airway pressure. The air pressure that comes in via the mask keeps the airway open and allows normal breathing.
  Interestingly, about 67 percent of the Oakland Press poll respondents who answered in the affirmative are male. I guess I envisioned it would be the opposite as I hear of wives (such as mine) alerting their husbands to the problem.
  But that’s further proof that sleep apnea doesn’t discriminate.
  Also, of those who said they know someone with undiagnosed sleep apnea, 88 percent are age 35 or older. Fifty percent are age 55 or older.
  That doesn’t mean younger folks aren’t touched by apnea. I think it speaks more to a lack of awareness.
  So please keep an eye out, and relentlessly nag your loved one to go to the doctor. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to a variety of woes over time such as heart disease and high blood pressure.


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