The Not So Silent Killer

Silent

There is a condition that is quite often misdiagnosed or completely ignored that can pose a threat to the life of the sufferer.  By some people, it is seen as a minor inconvenience and sometimes it is the subject of many jokes.  But the condition can have serious consequences like high blood pressure, lung disease, kidney failure, strokes, heart attacks, and even death.  Even with all of these adverse effects, many people ignore it until it has already done some damage.  That condition is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

There are nearly 20 million adults afflicted with the condition in the United States, and many others that don’t even know that they are.  What is so scary about the condition is the fact that the person has short (a few seconds or so) periods when they stop breathing due to airway obstruction.  This is called apnea, which comes from the Greek term that means “stop breathing.”  Those few seconds of apnea triggers the brain to wake the sleeper in order to start breathing again.  This constant interruption in sleep is why people with OSA are tired throughout their day.  If there are other factors, such as intoxication or sleeping pills use, it’s possible that the sleeper may not wake up before brain oxygen levels cause damage.

One of the first symptoms of OSA is loud and constant snoring, since the airways are narrowed when muscles relax during sleep.  If your bed partner or others tease or complain about your constant snoring, it’s probably time to see your health professional to see if you have the condition.  OSA causes a lack of oxygen in the body that alters the physical metabolism.  The longer you go without treating the condition, the greater the odds are that you will develop some of the other conditions associated with it.  If you suspect you may have the condition, it’s important to educate yourself and speak to your doctor about treatment.  You can also ask your questions here for other readers that have or know someone with OSA.