05 September 2015

Today's #Sleeptember FACT --- Apnea is treatable, but you need a diagnosis first

Nearly all sleep disorders are treatable or can be managed, but some are tougher to treat than others.

What's more important to consider, however, is that many people are walking around with sleep disorders they don't ever get checked out. They know they aren't sleeping well, they know they snore loudly, they know they wake up feeling terrible every single day, but for some reason they don't mention this to their doctors.

What's more, not all doctors are tuned into sleep health as an indication of general health.  They may not always ask, "How are you sleeping these days?" But times are changing and more doctors are coming on board with the idea that treating sleep health issues can also mean treating other health issues (sometimes it's even a two-for-one kind of deal).

In the meantime, patients need to speak up.

This can be particularly true for people who have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Chances are pretty solid that if you are a loud snorer and you are carrying around some extra weight, you have at least mild OSA. It happens to women and men, adults of all ages, children and people with other health concerns which may lead to OSA or which may even be directly caused by OSA. 

And yet, how many are actually treating their condition?

From the authors of the 2008 article, "Epidemiology of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: a Population-based Perspective": 
Evidence suggests that a large proportion of individuals with OSA remain undiagnosed. Analysis of two large population-based studies—Wisconsin Sleep Cohort and the Sleep Heart Health Study—estimated that up to 80% of individuals with moderate or severe OSA enrolled in these studies more than a decade ago had remained undiagnosed by their physicians despite adequate access to health care.
You can't treat OSA without a diagnosis. Treatment requires a physician's prescription, which is based on laboratory results after you've had at least one sleep study and other workup. 
These simple questions from the
ASAA site are designed help you
decide whether you should see a
doctor about your sleep problems.
There's no getting around it: you cannot just go to Walmart and buy a CPAP machine that's plug and play because you think you might have sleep apnea. And how will you know how to use it anyway? How will you know how to make the most of the mask, the humidification, the ramp settings? This is one for doctors to help you with, not Dr. Google or Craigslist.

Please don't self diagnose your sleep issues; the margin of error is just too great. Instead, discuss your sleep problems with your doctor. You may have few issues or you may have surprising issues you were never aware of (and how can you be? If you are sleeping and failing to breathe, for instance, how are you to know unless somebody tells you?).

The American Sleep Apnea Association is a patient-led organization which exists to help people to understand what sleep apnea is, to encourage them to seek diagnosis and treatment and to offer them opportunities within their own communities to gather with others in live settings and talk about living with OSA.

Learn more about the American Sleep Apnea Association here: