The Sleep Apnea Surprise By Craig Schwimmer, MD

It’s only Tuesday, and I’ve already surprised two people by diagnosing them with sleep apnea. Both know that they were snorers, but when asked, they each specifically denied any symptoms related to their snoring, They simply came in hoping to treat their snoring as a way to help their bed partner. Both were slightly overweight, and one had mildly elevated blood pressure. On a standard measure of daytime sleepiness, each reported levels slightly higher than expected. I was concerned that for each of these two patients, their snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea, and so I had each of them undergo a home-based sleep study. They each wore a simple monitoring device to bed last night, and returned today for their results. Both were absolutely astonished to learn that they do indeed have sleep apnea, and aren’t getting normal sleep. Happily, each underwent treatment today, and should soon start enjoying better sleep and better health.

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that disrupts sleep, and increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, erectile dysfunction, and many other diseases. It is estimated that up to 10% of adults suffer from sleep apnea, and most of them don’t even know it. Diagnosis and treatment have never been easier, so please – if you snore, get evaluated. You may well improve your own health, as well as your loved one’s.

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