By: Lin Stone
|I was dreaming. I can't remember the
dream. Something about staggering through a dark tunnel with a
bright light miles up ahead.|
WAKE UP! WAKE UP!
Oh, What do you want?
You quit breathing.
I fought to get my eyes open and looked around. I was in church. A dozen eyes were staring at me, some ominously, some with various degrees of concern. Then I remembered the dream and knew that I had been only inches away from heaven, again. Okay, maybe miles away. But, Sleep Apnea; Who needs it? I have work to do.
I forgot to breathe!
Sleep apnea is the most serious of all sleep disorders because of airflow obstruction and the cessation of respiration. It can happen at any time, day or night. My wife says that I bring a whole new level of meaning to the word "concentration." I can get so wrapped up in the work I'm doing that I push everything else out of the way, and concentrate. Quite often I forget to breathe. Usually I wake up when I fall over, especially if I hit something sharp..
Even though family members -- and the people that are affected by sleep apnea too -- might try to think of sleep apnea as little more than a bothersome condition, it is potentially fatal. Yeah, like in THUD! On top of that, sleep apnea wreaks havoc in the body with adverse effects on a bunch of organ systems, especially the heart. These adverse effects can cause mild to severe organ dysfunction.
Fortunately, various forms of treatment are currently available.
Nasal CPAP is the most common and effective treatment used today. The CPAP machine, working through the medium of a mask worn during sleep, maintains a positive pressure inside the airway during respiration. It takes some getting used to because at first it feels like someone is forcing air down your throat and you have to breathe in and out around it.
The "Sea-Pap" -- as patients call it -- acts as a support system to prevent further narrowing or collapse of the airway and eventually it will actually increases the size of the airway behind the palate, and at the back of the tongue.
Strangely enough, it helps most people with bad sleep apnea get a better night's sleep. One friend of mine declares she would positively be dead in three days if she did not use her Nasal CPAP machine every night.
Her husband agrees: "Any time she quits using that machine it gets so bad around here that I could kill her!"
A Nasal Sea-Pap machine not only relieves the symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness but it is also effective in improving and reducing the severity of the medical problems usually associated with sleep apnea. What are those? Follow me to the next panel down.
The medical complications of untreated OSA occur because of the direct effects of the periodic blockages in the upper airway.
The medical complications associated with untreated sleep apnea are as follows:
Problems occur when these effects are not consistently visible to a medical examiner, and are in fact either not diagnosed at all, or are attributed to something else, like mental illness.
Not everyone can use a Sea-Pap machine. I have claustrophobia and assorted other sorts of baggage. When my airways begin to shut down and I come awake to find something on my face I begin ripping it off. Who knows what evil armies of murderous mayhem are lurking in the darkness out there?
When my doctors suspected sleep apnea I went in for testing at the finest hospital in the state -- thanks to my health insurance policy. The test takes all night long! A harness is strapped to you that resembles the harness for an EKG, and might well be one, for all I know. You will also be wearing a mask that records pressure, in, and out -- in, and out. You will be woke up every time an "event" occurs. My number of awakenings was an unlucky 13. 13 in one night? It was lucky they caught them!
Earlier studies have shown that OSA
patients have an increased mortality rate, as much as ten times higher
than normal. The cause for the high mortality rate is thought to be a
combination of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events. Along with OSA,
there are other factors present, such as advanced age, obesity,
cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
About the Author: Lin Stone is the author of 39 books, including:
How To Survive The First 10 Days After Your Stroke
And, GOOD HEALTH FEELS GOOD.
Not only are both books yours for free, but you are invited
to give copies away to anyone you think needs them.
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