What You Need to Know About Sleep Apnea

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It is difficult to think that sleep can be dangerous, but for the more than 18 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea that is, in fact, the case. Essentially the walls of the throat relax so much during sleep that the sleep apnea sufferer stops breathing for a few seconds or even as long as a minute. Sleep apnea sufferers also often are unable to move through the natural sleep cycle as a result of these breathing interruptions and they therefore do not experience the restorative properties of sleep.

Many Americans require the use of sleep related medical equipment such as CPAP machines and CPAP machine masks. As many as one in 50 or 2% to 4% of Americans have sleep apnea that is undiagnosed and would benefit from sleep related medical equipment. These devices help the sleep apnea sufferer to continue breathing throughout the sleep cycle. Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of stroke by as much as four times and such sufferers are three times as likely to have heart disease.

Obstructive sleep apnea offers can experience as many as 60 apneas — breathing incidents — in an hour of sleep.
More than 38,000 people die as a result of sleep apnea every year — most as a result of apnea-related cardiovascular problems — according to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research. Men are twice as likely as women to have sleep apnea. Most people with apnea also snore and often breathe loudly or in a labored manner.

CPAP machines (continuous positive airway pressure machines) deliver a steady stream of compressed air that keep the airway open and prevent the stopping of breathing. Despite the availability of such sleep related medical equipment, many sufferers, as much as 80%, do not use them enough to decrease risks.In fact, as many as half of those needing a CPAP machine stop using it within two weeks. Ideally — and to ensure that you are still covered by your insurance — you should be using it at least 70% of the time over a month, for at least 4 hours every night. For many patients the devices are uncomfortable, but the benefits far outweigh any discomfort from wearing a mask. Different CPAP machine masks are available, but preference between nasal pillow or CPAP masks are pretty much split 50-50. By ensuring that you use the CPAP machine regularly, you can drastically cut down on the risks associated with sleep apnea.

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