Sleep Apnea Is a Growing Health Problem
You may feel like more and more people you know are being diagnosed or treated for obstructive sleep apnea. But it is more than just a sensation. There does seem to be an increasing number of sleep apnea cases these days. Statistics confirm that it is a rising trend. Find out why.
Is the Occurrence of Sleep Apnea Actually on the Rise?
Yes, but it is more complicated than that. The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project states that sleep apnea currently impacts nearly 25 million adults in the United States. That is about 26% of adults between the ages of 30 and 70!
The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine explains that cases related to this sleep disorder have been increasing over the last 20 years. According to the America Journal of Managed Care, health insurance claims related to sleep apnea have also increased drastically since 2014.
As we know, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a type of sleep disorder linked to many dangerous health complications. These include diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arrhythmias, stroke, weight gain, and even premature death. It impairs memory, reaction time and daytime alertness. Sleep apnea also has negative long-term effects on the brain and heart. Unfortunately, this serious condition is an expanding problem.
Why Is Sleep Apnea on the Rise?
It is true that this is an increasing problem. Yet, it is also true that we are getting better at diagnosing and treating people who otherwise would have struggled unknowingly with sleep apnea years ago. We are going to review some of the reasons why this sleep problem seems to be more prevalent these days.
Increasing Rate of Obesity
It is not news that the United States is currently battling an obesity epidemic. Now, there is increasing evidence that being overweight is a key risk factor in developing OSA. As the rate of obesity has risen over the past two decades, the rate of sleep apnea has also gone up. Proof of this link can also be seen in the obesity rate among kids and the increasing occurrence of OSA among children and young adults.
Better Diagnostic Capabilities for Sleep Apnea
What seems to be a noticeable rise in the number of people diagnosed with OSA is also due to the development of our understanding of the problem. Today, doctors and sleep clinicians can identify the symptoms of this sleep disorder sooner. Through overnight sleep analysis, people are able to get a diagnosis quickly and effectively at home or in specialized clinics. Because the diagnostic process has become more accurate, more patients are now able to receive the treatment they need to manage sleep apnea.
Growing Awareness about the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Public knowledge of OSA has also grown vastly over the last 10 years. People are more aware of the warning signs which are connected to this dangerous sleep disorder. These include:
- Loud snoring,
- Chronic headaches,
- Fatigue and tiredness,
- Impaired daytime function,
- Choking or gasping while sleeping,
- Periods without breathing while asleep.
In the past, many people suffered from sleep apnea but never knew they had a problem. Others lived with the symptoms because they did not know what the condition was called or that it was treatable.
More Patients Seeking Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Today, thanks to this awareness, more patients are seeking diagnosis and treatment for OSA than ever before. Physicians are also better able to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea among their patients. Doctors are increasingly referring patients for sleep testing to confirm their diagnosis. The CDC and Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and Inspire Sleep therapy have been shown to decrease the dangerous symptoms of this sleep disorder. Some research is now showing that successful treatment can even reverse the brain damage incurred by severe OSA and reduce blood pressure. The improvement in patient care over the past few years has been huge, and it will surely continue to evolve as we move towards the future.
Where Can I Get Tested for a Sleep Disorder?
If you are worried that sleep apnea may be affecting your health, or the health of someone you love, talk to a doctor. You should ask for a referral for sleep analysis. Contact Sleep Health Solutions of Ohio for overnight sleep testing today; call (330) 923-0228.