Ever since one of our patients had her son die from complications for obstructive sleep apnea I vowed to not only become more knowledgeable, but to help educate and treat those who have sleep apnea (the stoppage of breathing at night during sleep).
50-70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, including snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea but only 15% know about it. Excessive Daytime Sleepiness alone costs $150 billion annually in lost productivity and mishaps, and another $48 billion in medical costs related to motor vehicle accidents that involve drowsy drivers. Almost 20% of all serious car crash injuries are associated with driver Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, independent of alcohol effects.
Screening tests such as the Epiworth Sleepiness test can be completed to assess the risk of having sleep apnea. (You can call our office for a copy if there are any concerns about snoring or sleep apnea.) Sleep apnea is evaluated and positively diagnosed by having a sleep study done. The patient spends the night in a sleep lab and is hooked up to machines with tiny measuring devices that measure breathing, brain wave, and muscle activity. This “lab” is an extremely comfortable bedroom that is like being at home or in a hotel room.
Obstructive sleep apnea (stoppage of breathing) occurs when the throat area closes down if excessive tissue encroaches upon the airway space. If the breathing is stopped for more than 10 seconds it is called an episode. Sleep apnea is quantified: Mild-5-15 episodes per hour, Moderate:16-30, Severe: greater than 30 per hour. The more episodes one has correlates to more severe problems.