Do you or a loved one suffer from sleep apnea? This common sleep disorder is diagnosed when someone momentarily stops breathing or takes shallow breaths during sleep. If you've ever heard someone snore, then stop, and then suddenly make a loud snorting or choking sound, that might be sleep apnea. Most people who are diagnosed with sleep apnea where CPAP masks, which are connected to air pumps to promote normal breathing during sleep. A diagnosis of sleep apnea can raise a lot of important questions. Here, we'll review eight CPAP and sleep apnea facts that people with trouble sleeping should know about.
First, sleep apnea is common. The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that roughly 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. If you can't shake your feeling of ongoing fatigue, sleep apnea might be the culprit.
And that leads us to our second important fact -- that roughly 80 percent of people with moderate or severe sleep apnea don't get diagnosed, the American Sleep Apnea Association says. And without a diagnosis, people who have sleep apnea can't get the treatments they need.
Third is that many people experience the symptoms of sleep apnea, with snoring being the most common. Morning headaches, fatigue, depression and frequent urinating at night are also common apnea symptoms. People who experience these symptoms should see their doctors.
Fourth is that older women are just as likely as men to have sleep apnea. At younger ages, the condition is most common among overweight men, as obesity is one of the leading risk factors. After menopause, though, women are just as likely to have this condition.
If you're diagnosed, be sure to use your CPAP machine, because up to half of all CPAP recipients don't use their masks at night. Many people stop using their masks after a few weeks of use, citing discomfort. There are other options to CPAP masks, but getting used to these masks can take time. Don't stop wearing your mask at night without approval from your doctor.
Sixth, CPAP masks have other benefits. Researchers recently discovered that veterans with PTSD experienced improvements when treated with CPAP masks. This may be in part because CPAP therapy allows for a better night's sleep and an overall healthier state of being.
Seventh, don't stress about CPAP costs if you have health insurance, because most providers cover necessary CPAP equipment. Deductibles and copays vary between policies, so talk to your insurer and see what kinds of benefits you have.
Last is that sleep apnea can lead to serious complications if not properly treated. People with apnea who don't get help are more likely to suffer from strokes, heart attacks or even diabetes, which is why getting help is so important.
Take our quiz to see if you should talk to your doctor about sleep apnea.