air pressure machine for sleep apneaBy Jena Williams

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing during sleep sometimes up to several hundred times a night. Episodes are followed by fragmented, restless sleep. This can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and can lead to serious health conditions including congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, or stroke.

Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can cause a person to fall asleep while performing work activities such as driving. It’s a dreaded diagnosis among many truck drivers, one that they assume will change their life. They may be surprised to find that the diagnosis can change their life for the better.

Dennis, a long-time truck driver, shares how this diagnosis has affected his life. “Before my diagnosis with sleep apnea, I thought it was just part of the job to feel tired all the time. I never knew what a good night’s sleep was. Now that I sleep with a CPAP machine, I feel good, rested and ready to attack the day.” Dennis noted that his symptoms also included night-time acid reflux and snoring.

Some common symptoms of sleep apnea include: loud snoring, labored breathing during sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, or difficulty concentrating. Although obstructive sleep apnea seems to be more common in obese men, 40% of the people diagnosed are not obese.

According to the MedLine Plus library:

“A person with obstructive sleep apnea usually snores heavily soon after falling asleep. The snoring continues at a regular pace for a period of time, often becoming louder, but is then interrupted by a long silent period during which there is no breathing. This is followed by a loud snort and gasp, and the snoring returns. This pattern repeats frequently throughout the night.”

If you have any of these symptoms, or have been told by your sleep partner that you do, see your doctor immediately. You could be a danger to yourself and others on the road.

Treatment for sleep apnea can be fairly simple and ranges from lifestyle changes to sleeping with a positive airway pressure machine. According to Dr. Bennet Wang, a pulmonary and sleep medicine specialist at Group Health Bellevue Medical Center, “…the airway machines have really improved over the past 2-3 years. People, who used to not be able to tolerate them, can now tolerate the treatment.” It’s important that drivers don’t avoid dealing with this issue. A simple treatment can save lives on the road and improve a driver’s quality of life in general.

Recovery can be life changing. You may not remember ever feeling better.

Similar topics:

Nightime breathing treatments (link added 01/30/2012)

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