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Are Sleep Disorders a Real Problem?  Researchers Recommend Public Health Campaign - Sleep Apnea Can Be Treated with CPAP Machines

April 4th 2006

Are Sleep Disorders a Real Problem?  Researchers Recommend Public Health Campaign - Sleep Apnea Can Be Treated with CPAP Machines

Newer CPAP Mask

According to the Institute of Medicine, sleep related problems are costing the nation hundreds of billions of dollars per year in medical expenses, lost productivity, accidents and other costs. "Although sleep research and care for individuals with sleep disorders have expanded over the past several years, we currently don't have the capacity to adequately diagnose and treat all who suffer from these problems," said Harvey Colten, who chaired the committee that wrote the report.

Colten is right, most people affected by sleep disorders are not sure what the problem is and how to treat it.  More than 50 million Americans suffer from some type of chronic sleep disorder.  People may experience daytime sleepiness or an inability to fall asleep.  Some people wake up midway through their night and are unable to fall asleep again. 

According to Colten, most people that suffer from a sleep disorder are undiagnosed and untreated.  A common sleep problem, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is only diagnosed in about 25% of the 6 million people who suffer from the sever form of the disease.


It is important to determine what the problem is.  If it is daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea may be the cause.  The vast majority of people with this condition do not realize they have it because it occurs when they are asleep.  As the sleeper rests, the throat begins to relax.  The wife or husband (sleep partner) may begin to hear snoring or a wheezing.  Like snoring, most people with sleep apnea have no idea they stop breathing. 

Sleeping pills could make the condition worse because the sleeper may relax even more.  The throat may close more frequently.  It is important to get a sleep study done if you suspect sleep apnea because the condition could lead to high blood pressure, stroke and heart attacks. 


Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) occurs when the brain just forgets to breathe.  This is rarer, but can be caused by loss of brain stem cells as we age.  There are treatments available, including drugs and a Constant Positive Air Pressure (CPAP or APAP) machine.  These devices are worn at night and have the added benefit of preventing or eliminating snoring, in most cases

You can ask your doctor where you can get a sleep study done.  Many times it is done in a hotel type setting inside the office of a cardio-pulmonary specialist.  You may want to reduce the number of hours slept the night before the study in order to assure you fall asleep at the study. 

Recently an article highlighted the importance of treatment.  A Canadian gentleman left his CPAP machine at home while on vacation in the Caribbean.  He did not want to bring it on board the plane. Nine days into his vacation he suffered a stroke. 


No one can say for sure whether the lack of treatment caused his stroke, but sleep apnea has been linked to both strokes and heart attacks.  The use of CPAP machines have also been shown to help prevent heart failure.  Treatment for sleep problems is critical. 

Colten was once the vice president at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.  Colten is recommending a public health campaign in order to wake people up to the importance of a good nights sleep.  

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication

Books about Sleep Apnea at Amazon

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Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:50 PM