Sleep-related diseases can severely affect your ability to function on a day-to-day basis, leaving you fatigued and irritable. One unfortunately common and at times extremely debilitating disease of this nature is OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea. But how do you know if you may be living with OSA? Ask yourself, aside from feeling fatigue: a) have you been snoring loudly and excessively at night? b) Do you currently have hypertension or type 2 diabetes? c) Are you overweight? d) Has anyone ever mentioned that at times of rest you sometimes stop breathing or breathe irregularly? All of these things are signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. If you have experienced one or more of these things and you are struggling to get enough sleep at night, it may be time to consult with a doctor who will be able to recommend further testing for you.
- What exactly causes sleep apnea? OSA happens when a person’s body relaxes dangerously at times of rest, resulting in a narrowed air passage, which negatively impacts the individual’s ability to breathe properly during sleeping hours. As a result, a person may wake dozens of times throughout the night, unaware, because their brain instinctually jolts them awake to force-start normal breathing.
- What can increase your chances of developing sleep apnea? Many things can increase your risk for OSA, including endocrine and metabolic disorders, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, excessive substance use and sedative use.
- How will a doctor diagnose a person with sleep apnea? In order for your doctor to be able to honestly and correctly diagnose your disease, they will need to recommend you visit a sleep center and undergo an observational sleep test. The test will give medical professionals an opportunity to monitor your body while you sleep and track any abnormalities.
- Are sleep studies covered by insurance? Yes, most insurance providers include both sleep studies and, if diagnosed, sleep apnea treatments. If you have any questions or concerns about your sleep study insurance coverage, you should consult your insurance carrier as well as healthcare provider.
- If I am diagnosed with sleep apnea, what will happen? You will begin to receive treatment. Your healthcare provider will go over your various options and find the best solution for you. You will likely be able to undergo what is known as CPAP treatment, or continuous positive airway pressure therapy, in which you will wear a mask attached to a machine, which will work to keep your air passages open and properly functioning.
- Aside from CPAP treatment, what are my options? While you should consult a medical professional for specified treatment options, there are measures you can take to improve your overall health and possibly reverse some of the effects of OSA. Since weight plays a large part in the development of sleep apnea, an improved diet and routine exercise will help you slim down and counter OSA.
Untreated sleep apnea is incredibly problematic and can result in many complications. It’s important to know your treatment options if you have this disease.