To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Welcome

Welcome to The Sleep Center blog.  I know, just what you need, another email, another electronic interruption to your life. But, with a little bit of luck you will find some pearl, some nugget, some small fact that will make you sleep better, your days clearer and life more rewarding.  T

Let’s start with a brief note about Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  Why are doctors so concerned? Why will so much of what we talk about on these pages be related to Obstructive Apnea.  I hope you know.  But, if not, it is because apnea can lead to many long-term medical problems and early death.   Successful treatment has been shown to reduce the apnea symptoms and reduce the long-term problems that people experience.  Patients with apnea who successfully control their apnea live longer better lives.

The First Visit

Why does your doctor focus on whether you have Obstructive Apnea?  Of course it causes those nasty conditions – hypertension, diabetes, vascular disease resulting in heart problems (atrial fibrillation, heart attacks, heart failure), strokes, memory problems, and accidents – along with the possibility of dying earlier than you might want. While that is reason enough, it is far from the only reason

The reason is….

                           Apnea is Very, Very Common

Obstructive Apnea is estimated to occur in greater than 25% of the adult population.  It is more common as we grow older.  It occurs in all age groups.

Furthermore

                           Sleep Symptoms are often non-specific

Many symptoms can result from apnea.  Similar symptoms can result from other disorders of sleep.  As a result, testing is almost always required to exclude Obstructive Apnea as a cause of a person’s symptoms.  

A problem with your sleep may result from more than one problem.  It is not uncommon for a person to have sleep problems and be found to have Obstructive Apnea on sleep testing.  After being treated, usually with positive airway pressure, the doctor says the treatment is working well.  The apnea is corrected.  But the individual feels no better.  Apnea is so common that it is frequently discovered and diagnosed when other sleep problems are also present and those problems are causing the symptoms. Treating the apnea is still important for the majority of these individuals because of the significant long-term complications of Obstructive Apnea.

The reasons the doctor is worried about obstructive sleep apnea are

            Obstructive Apnea is a very common problem for humans.

            Symptoms and signs are often non-specific

            And of course, the elephant in the exam room is Obstructive Apnea.

Elephant fan? – Visit the Elephant Sanctuary web page.