Sleep apnea - what is it?
There are several types of sleep apnea, which all have one thing in common, a lack of proper breathing during sleep. A person with sleep apnea doesn't get enough oxygen while sleeping because their airway is blocked or the chest muscles and diaphragm stop working. This can cause the sufferer to wake up, possibly hundreds of times during the night, as the body struggles for air. The person may or may not remember the episodes the next day.
Sleep apnea has serious effects. Sufferers can be extremely sleepy during the day, causing problems with work and personal life. They may fall asleep at inappropriate times, even while driving. Long-term consequences can include high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
How do I get help?
Step 1 - Talk to your doctor or health care provider.
Your doctor will consider your medical history and your current symptoms and may talk to your spouse or sleep partner, who can see and hear problems that you aren't aware of while you sleep. Your doctor can make a referral to the sleep disorders centers for further evaluation. If you do not have a doctor, call the sleep centers directly at 253-581-6951.
Step 2 - Give the sleep center detailed information.
Once you are in touch with the sleep disorders centers, you will be asked to complete a comprehensive questionnaire about your general health, medications, and sleeping habits. The Sleep Center staff will use this information to determine the severity of your symptoms and will let you know if a sleep study can help.
Step 3 - Schedule and undergo a sleep study, if needed.
If Sleep Center staff and your doctor believe your symptoms point to a possible sleeping disorder, they will arrange a study. (See following section for more details.)
Step 4 - Follow treatment recommendations.
If you are found to have a sleep disorder, you will be told about general health measures and specific treatments for your condition. Many people find that their quality of life improves dramatically once their problem has been diagnosed and appropriate treatment is prescribed.