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Rise In Diagnosis Of Sleep Apnea Worrying In U.S.

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is a chronic sleeping disorder that involves the halting of breathing during sleep for at least ten seconds or more each hour. This occurs when the throat muscles relax and airways are blocked as the soft tissues near the rear of the throat close as they collapse. Recently, this disorder has become a big problem in the United States, and affects almost twenty five million adults across the country. A National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project has highlighted how threatening this problem really is in regards to the health and safety of the public, and recent studies show that sleep apnea may be destructive in its link to heart disease, stroke, depression, and diabetes.

The Growing Problems Related To Sleep Apnea

The president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the spokesman for the Healthy Sleep Project, Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, has expressed his worry over sleep apneas destructive capabilities and has said that he feels the correct treatment of the disorder may be a key to the success of the national attempt at lowering hospitalization and decreasing medical costs in the country. It is chronic disease management that involves the most expenditure of hospital money in the constant treatment of problems that could be fixed more easily and for good if citizens were willing to make changes and follow procedures set out by their physicians. Previous data that has been published in journals such as the American Journal of Epidemiology estimates that there has been an increase in the last twenty years that brings the percentage of adults ages thirty to seventy suffering from the condition to 26%. These growing numbers seem to correlate directly with the increase in obese adults in North America, which is also a growing concern for the welfare and health of the country.

The Importance Of Proper Treatment

Many men and women complain about their partner’s snoring, but few seek help to determine the cause, and while some snores may be harmless, the ones that relate to sleep apnea could lead to later fatality due to additional illnesses or disorders. For this reason, among many others, the proper treatment of sleep apnea is important, especially with the numbers continuing to rise. In fact, untreated cases have been shown in recently documented cases to lead to brain problems and heart health concerns. Medical News Today reports: “A neuroimaging study in the September issue of the journal Sleep found that participants with severe, untreated sleep apnea had a significant reduction in white matter fiber integrity in multiple brain areas, which was accompanied by impairments to cognition, mood and daytime alertness. One year of CPAP therapy led to an almost complete reversal of this brain damage.”

Properly diagnosed and treated cases of sleep apnea have also shown significantly reduced cardiovascular complications in patients who have suffered from cardiac arrest. Studies from other countries show similarly frightening statistics, with Brazil showing a study that showed 92% of patients with sleep apnea had nocturnal cardiac arrhythmias.

Symptoms And Causes Of The Disorder

There are many signs of this disorder to be wary of, but some of the most obvious are snoring, silent breathing during sleep, or choking and gasping for air at random times throughout the night. While some patients find that these symptoms lessen on the side or stomach, this does not reduce the severity of the condition, and appropriate treatment should be sought. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have begun urging patients who struggle with sleep apnea, or who suspect that they might have sleep apnea to approach a physician for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. As mentioned above, this condition occurs when the throat closes and air can’t pass properly to the lungs; The Mayo Clinic explains: “When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in, and you can’t get an adequate breath in. This may lower the level of oxygen in your blood. Your brain senses this inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t remember it.”

Some of the risks that have been associated with sleep apnea include obesity and width of neck, narrowed air passages, age, gender, genetics, race, alcohol or drug use, cigarette smoking, and nasal congestion.

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