It was my first meeting with my family physician in Montreal. After reviewing my previous medical info and asking me about my concerns he said:
We can’t deal with anything until your Sleep Apnea is addressed.
After digesting his words, getting an appointment to see his colleague who specialized in Sleep Apnea, I began to do a little research and I have come to understand that Sleep Apnea can be a life destroyer.
How can any of us live to our full potential if we are starving our brains and bodies of oxygen?
Following is a brief look at what I learned, and the steps that I have taken to deal with my Sleep Apnea.
A Little Background ABout Me & My Health
It is 2018 and I am 70 years old. I am a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) Survivor (2000) as well as a heart attack survivor (2004).
I was first diagnosed with Sleep Apnea so 30 years ago. After deciding not to have surgery on my throat my Sleep Apnea issues were never addressed by any of my doctors, or by me, over the past 30 years. Hmmmm.
That is until the leading Cardio Surgeon in Halifax in 2015 identified Sleep Apnea as the cause of my health issues. This was after she began testing me for the heart-related issues she was convinced I had. Man, was she thorough.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep.
The following video “Understanding Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)” is very informative.
People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times.
This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.
There are two types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
- Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control center.
What Are the Effects of Sleep Apnea?
As normal sleep is disrupted by Sleep Apnea people affected may experience sleepiness or feel tired during the day. Your productive may go down the drain.
Untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes, and academic underachievement in children and adolescents.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk of health problems, including:
- cognitive impairment
- Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
- High blood pressure
- Memory loss
- Weight gain and difficulty losing weight
- Worsening of ADHD
Getting Tested for Sleep Apnea is Easy
The test for sleep apnea is easy and can be done at home.
The test involves wearing a small machine strapped around your chest with an small tube that sits in your nostrils for one night.
The treatment for me is quite standard and involves using a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine when I am sleeping.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a form of positive airway pressure ventilator, which applies mild air pressure on a continuous basis to keep the airways continuously open.
By PruebasBMA -- Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18885672
The idea of wearing a mask over my face while sleeping was a little unnerving, but after a few nights of wearing the mask I got used to it.
The Steps I Took
If you can relate to any of the above it may be worth speaking to your family doctor.
My doctor referred me to a specialist.
The specialist referred me for a test.
After the test, the specialist recommended that I use a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) Machine.
Good luck with improving your sleep and improving the quality of your life.