The nation’s sleep experts agree: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – a potentially life-threatening disease involving episodes of complete or partial airway obstruction during sleep – is dangerously on the rise. The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, a collaboration launched this year by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Sleep Research Society (SRS), is urging anyone with symptoms of OSA to pledge to stop the snore and talk to a doctor about sleep apnea.
“The disease afflicts at least 25 million American adults, and most of them remain untreated, increasing their risk of cardiac disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and obesity,” said Dr.Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the AASM and a national spokesperson for the Healthy Sleep Project. “Fortunately, many of the damaging effects of sleep apnea can be stopped, and even reversed, through diagnosis and treatment by a board-certified sleep specialist.”
How do you know if you should talk to a doctor about OSA? Here are five warning signs for sleep apnea:
If these symptoms describe you, then you have a high risk for OSA. If you’re ready to talk to a doctor about sleep apnea, the Healthy Sleep Project encourages you to visit stopsnoringpledge.org to pledge to stop the snore and find a local sleep specialist at an AASM-accredited sleep center.
“A common misconception is that sleep apnea only affects older, overweight men,” said Morgenthaler. “This widely-held assumption is wrong: anyone can have sleep apnea, regardless of gender, age or body type – even if you’re not overweight.”
Your doctor may decide you need an objective sleep test, which will provide the data needed to make an accurate diagnosis. Once diagnosed, the most commonly recommended treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which provides gently pressurized air through a mask, keeping your airway open and making it easier to breathe. For patients who are unable to tolerate CPAP, or who seek alternatives, knowledgeable sleep specialists may be able to offer other treatments.
“Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic disease that has a negative impact on the health and well-being of millions of people in the U.S.,” said Janet B. Croft, PhD, senior chronic disease epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Population Health. “It is important to discuss the warning signs for sleep apnea with your doctor to determine if you are at risk.”
For more information or to pledge to stop the snore and talk to a doctor about sleep apnea, visit projecthealthysleep.org.