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July 26, 2018
This paid piece is sponsored by Avera.
We all need good rest, every day. Yet more than 18 million Americans have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, which, when left untreated, makes good rest nearly impossible.
“What’s worse is the American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that another 23.5 million Americans suffer from OSA but don’t realize it. That’s a startling number,” said Darla Klinger, lead sleep technologist with the Avera McKennan Sleep Diagnostic Center.
Snoring is played for comedy in jokes and on TV, but it can be a red flag warning about OSA, a situation that causes a cornucopia of conditions, from morning headaches to a foggy memory. It also worsens serious health concerns such as depression, chronic respiratory problems and heart disease. Klinger said step one is straightforward.
“Talk to your doctor if your loved ones report that you are snoring or notice pauses in your breathing when you sleep. These could indicate OSA,” she said. “Especially if you’re waking groggy and feel daytime sleepiness or fatigue, it could indicate a more significant problem than just snoring, one that can be corrected.”
Testing for OSA is usually recommended when people snore, have pauses in their breathing and report feelings of fatigue during the day. No two people sleep the same way, and that’s why proper testing is critical to see if the sleep you’re getting is actually restful and restorative.
“The gold standard is the in-clinic sleep test or polysomnogram because we can monitor the person continuously through the entire night. In many cases, if the person displays OSA, we can help them with therapy during that same night,” she said. “At-home tests can be revealing, but research shows that at-home sleep tests have a high false-negative rate, so these tests are not the best choices for everyone. Of course, people want to hear they don’t have apnea, but if they do, and it’s not treated, the problem will worsen and it will impact their overall health.”
In short, Klinger said, the less you sleep, the shorter your life.
If the diagnosis is indeed OSA, positive airway pressure therapy, or PAP, makes all the difference.
Naturally, some folks who snore and figure they can just “borrow Aunt Jean’s” CPAP device are leaving out a critical aspect that can threaten their health, Klinger said.
“Getting a device online or from a family member will leave out the support and fine-tuning that you will need in order to overcome the problems OSA causes,” she said. “In order for your device to work properly, it does require effort on the part of the patient, but it also takes the care team, including home medical equipment expertise, to make sure the pressure is set properly and that you’re not exacerbating the issue.”
The newest and most-innovative technology found in today’s therapy devices include ones that allow for a regulated air flow that increases and decreases as the airway changes in size through the course of sleep. When used with some diligence and professional support, the therapy can be successful.
“The vast array of symptoms related to sleep conditions can be resolved, everything from depression and irritability to heart disease,” said Patrice Jerke, Avera Home Medical Equipment regional clinical manager. “Explore the roots of your sleep disorder. Things can improve, and you can get the good rest that is so vital to good health.”
Jerke said a wide range of masks, including ones that are more comfortable, are available widely, and that home medical equipment professionals offer guidance in finding the proper fit, the right pressure and the best possible approach toward getting meaningful slumber, all in coordination with your health care provider.
“We see it often, the night-and-day difference that people experience when they get their OSA managed. When it kicks in and starts to positively affect the way you live your life, you’ll be glad you took the right steps toward treating it,” she said. “It’s your sleep – and your health.”
No two people sleep the same way, and that’s why proper testing is critical to see if the sleep you’re getting is actually restful and restorative.