It’s often been said that sleep is the cousin of death. While this may sound a bit ridiculous, the mere act of sleeping can be potentially deadly for those who suffer from sleep apnea. For example, according to recent data from the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, it’s estimated that a staggering 38,000 cardiovascular deaths occur on a yearly basis that can be linked to sleep apnea in some way.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OAS) is a common medical condition that, unfortunately, often goes undiagnosed. For example, while it has been reported that as many as 18 million Americans, it has also been estimated that two to four percent of all Americans suffer from undiagnosed case of sleep apnea. This translates to roughly one in 50 individuals who remain undiagnosed.
Sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway along the back of the throat collapses, which in turn, prevents breathing. Often times, the brain signals the body to gasp, cough, or even choke to start the breathing cycle all over again.
Undiagnosed sleep apnea sufferers face much worse realities that simply not getting a good night’s rest. In fact, they are up to four times as likely to suffer from a stroke and up to three times as likely to develop heart disease. Both of these conditions are potentially fatal, however, when addressed and treated early, can be managed.
While sleep apnea causes may differ from person to person, it’s diet and exercise can help sleep apnea sufferers maintain a healthy weight, which in turn, may alleviate some of their symptoms. In addition, smoking and and alcohol use can also be contributing factors to sleep apnea.
Though sleep apnea is considered a potentially dangerous condition, there are treatment options available that make the condition much more manageable while providing relief. Common treatment options include nasal pillows, and sleep apnea masks such as BIPAP masks and CPAP masks.
CPAP machines provide continuous pressurized air through a mask that is fitted over the nose and mouth. The steady stream of pressurized air not only provides oxygen, but disrupts the sleep apnea cycle. CPAP machines differ from BIPAP machines in that they do adjust the air pressure when the sufferer exhales, however, both kind of treatment options are considered highly effective.