Monday, August 11, 2014

All about sleep apnea

This article provides much information on sleep apnea, including signs you may have it, and what you should do to get checked if you think you might have sleep apnea.

Think you might have sleep apnea? Not sure what the symptoms are? It's a growing sleep disorder that people are more and more being affected by.
Sleep apnea affects some 18 million Americans and around 850,000 Canadians. The etymology of the word apnea translates into the suspension of breathing or the absence of respiration. Pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, this can occur up to 30 times per hour in some cases.
Obstructive sleep apnea can be mild, moderate or severe. The severe form of this ailment can progressively degenerate, leading in some cases to death in patients. Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed as extreme snoring. Both sexes experience sleep apnea but it is more common in males than females. Certain racial groups are also more prone to this condition, Hispanics have higher rates of sleep apnea than Caucasians.
Common Sleep Apnea Statistics
The Sleep Disorders Guide has provided the following research information.
- 1 in every 15 Americans has sleep apnea
- University of California’s San Diego campus discovered 17 percent of the 54 African Americans had obstructive sleep apnea. The 346 Caucasians tested only had an 8 percent indicator
- 1 in 50 Americans are undiagnosed
- obstructive sleep apnea patients are at an increased rate for traffic incidents
- People driving drowsy is responsible for 100,000 car accidents, 40,000 injuries and up to 1,550 deaths per year if your bed partner has this condition you are unlikely to get any sleep
- stroke, hypertension and heart disease are all linked to sufferers of sleep apnea
A lack of proper sleep has been linked to cognitive problems in the workforce and decreases in educational achievement. Memory and complex decision making skills are also affected at an increased rate leading to occupational accidents and fatalities.
Fatalities Caused By Sleep Disorders
The impact of getting a lack of sleep can not be underestimated. Medical resident students work longer hours than most hospital staff. During the first year residency med students usually work a 24 hour shift every third night they can work up to 96 hours in some cases. Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons states that medical student hours can not exceed 80 hours per week with at least 24 consecutive hours free from duty in a week. These guidelines are often not adhered to with priority shifts and hours going to senior staff. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education found that residents who worked more than 80 hours per week were at risk for making significant medical errors that led to negatively impacting patients. Sleep related fatigue is a leading cause of medical errors facing hospitals and patients.
The Three Mile Island incident of 1979 resulted in a cooling malfunction in reactor #2, radioactive gas was released, fortunately there were no fatalities. Cooling to the reactor was eventually restored, this incident was thought to have been caused by lack of sleep of the plant employees. The occupational damage from lack of sleep ended up costing $975 million back in March 28th of 1979.
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. The 987 foot long oil tanker ran aground a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska releasing 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into the Pacific ocean. The oil spill ended costing $3.8 billion to clean up. This incident again was related to the ships crew suffering from lack of sleep.
Who Is At Risk For Sleep Apnea?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that one-third of U.S. adults or 34.9 percent are obese. The medical costs for treating obese people amounted to $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars. The male gender and certain racial groups are more at risk for sleep apnea than other demographics. Blacks are at a 47.8% increased risk of obesity compared to 42.5% for Hispanics. Whites have a 32.6% obesity rate compared to 10.8% for Asians.
Obesity and socioeconomic status go hand in hand when it comes to obesity. Blacks and Mexican Americans are prime candidates for the battle of the bulge. Among women obesity levels rise with education levels. Women with a college degree had a 23.4% obesity rate compared to 42.1% of women without a high school diploma. Men and women with college degrees have significantly lower rates of obesity. The common denominator is the more education people have the more income they earn and the healthier food they can purchase.
Simply put people with higher incomes are able to afford organic or natural foods. GM staple crops like GM corn are modified to produce higher yields. A Norway research study fed rats GM corn for 90 days, the end result was the rats feeding on the GM corn grew obese, in contrast to the rats fed on the non-GM diet. The physiology of rats is similar to humans, if rats grow obese from a GM diet than humans eating the same type of food will also become obese. Nutrient levels in today’s crops have decreased significantly since WWII, modern day food simply does not have the nutritional density it once did. A lack of nutrient dense crops results in people eating large quantities of food, the more food a person consumes to make up for the lack of nutrients the more weight they put on. Mexican Americans and Blacks from lower economic levels live in areas with an abundance of fast food outlets and grocery stores that do not have access to the organic food market because of the higher prices, this makes this demographic prime candidates for sleep apnea.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
The most direct method to diagnose sleep apnea is at a sleep clinic managed by qualified sleep technicians. The clinical name for the study of sleep is called polysomnography, this test measures brain wave activity, heart rate, breathing and eye and leg movements. Patients undergoing this study check in during the evening into a private room that has a video camera, the sleep room is adjacent to the monitoring room where the sleep technician monitors the patient. Sensors are placed on the legs of the individual to monitor restlessness at night. A sensor belt is placed around the abdomen and waist to monitor breathing, additional sensors are placed near the mouth and nose to measure the respiratory rate.
The final step in polysomnography is the attachment of a Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device that attaches to the mouth of the patient. The CPAP machine supplies light air pressure through the mouth or nose, this pressure is enough to keep the airway open so the patient can breathe properly while sleeping. If the presence of obstructive sleep apnea is documented during the night the sleep technician will re-enter the room and apply a CPAP mask that is attached to a CPAP machine. The sleep technician will wait for the patient to enter a deep sleep before gradually determining the minimum airflow to keep the airway open. The technician will also monitor the patients other vitals for symptoms of sleep apnea. A definitive diagnosis can be made later by a physician sleep specialist that is dedicated to the study of sleep medicine.
CPAP is the most widely accepted and effective machine to treat sleep apnea today. If you think you may be a sufferer of sleep apnea consult your physician regarding making an appointment at a sleep clinic.

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