LIVEWELL MINUTE: Sleep Apnea
Snoring can be more than a disturbance to a bed partner. Although most snoring is harmless, loud and continuous snoring or pauses in breathing may be warning signs for a serious and even life-threatening disorder called sleep apnea.
Dr. Greg Hicklin, a Board-Certified Sleep Specialist at Iowa Clinic says, “Approximately 4% of men and 2% of women have sleep apnea. Obesity and alcohol consumption can increase your risk of developing it. In addition to the breathing abnormalities, other warning signs include noticeable daytime sleepiness, or waking up feeling unrefreshed.”
Apnea can lead to symptoms of depression, irritability, learning and memory difficulties, and falling asleep in situations demanding alertness, such as driving. Blood oxygen levels are reduced, which contribute to an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, hypertension and stroke. And, people with sleep apnea are two to three times more likely to have automobile accidents.
Dr. Hicklin says, “Sleep apnea can be treated. Mild forms can often be corrected by adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes avoiding alcohol, stopping smoking, losing weight, and moderate exercise. Mechanical airway devices, commonly known as ‘C-PAP machines’, can be used to effectively correct moderate to severe apnea. And dental appliances and corrective surgery are also sometimes helpful.”