I heard this week from Martha who asked me to help her get the word out about a problem that is possibly the root of dozens of health problems, and is not recognized as THE diagnosis as often as it should be. Sleep apnea, which is MORE than just a problem sleeping — and it may be an answer for you, too.
Her request struck a chord — because both my husband and brother-in-law have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and both tell me that it was a huge turning point in their lives. (I should add that I’m a newly wed (!) and my husband was diagnosed before we met.) Their treatments allow both of them to sleep well now — no more falling asleep at work, or at the wheel of the car, or (good gawd — can you imagine?)
Here’s the problem — people with sleep apnea STOP BREATHING hundreds of times every night while they try to sleep! Once their breathing mechanism kicks in again, it wakes them up, they have to fall asleep again, and in the meantime, their bodies have been deprived of oxygen — over and over and over and over again. Most snore, too, and it disturbs their sleeping partners. Sleep apnea is the uber sleep disorder.
Here are some of the known problems it can cause, or make worse: brain damage, heart disease, vascular disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity, down syndrome, IBS, parkinsons, and others.
But mostly, it seems to me after reading some of the literature, sleep apnea is one of those medical problems that doesn’t get considered as a diagnosis. It’s a missed-diagnosis. Some of the differential diagnoses are dysautonomia or fibromyalgia or ADHD or depression — or any of a host of problems. Even if the patient really has those problems, they can’t get better unless their sleeping ability is improved, too.
Diagnosis takes place usually at a sleep clinic. And there are some simple, and less simple treatments. The basis of treatment is to make sure the patient sleeps without interruption.
Martha sent me a whole raft of links to share with you, and I have done so at http://www.diagKNOWsis.org/resources/sleepdisorders.htm
She also sent a good screening tool you can try to see if you might be a sleep apnea victim. Link here.
If you’d just like a flavor of sleep apnea from a medical point of view (because — remember — I’m not a medical professional!) — try this website: http://familydoctor.org/212.xml
Thanks Martha! You’ve done a huge service to readers who will learn more today.
Good grief. I can’t believe it’s already February.