Why Sleep Apnea is Dangerous if Left Untreated

Bipap vs cpap

While sleep apnea is a very common disorder, it is also very difficult to diagnose. However, if left untreated, it may have dangerous consequences. For some individuals, sleep apnea treatment may involve cpap machines or nose masks. While these take some getting used to, there are some steps that users can take to improve cpap machine effectiveness.

What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep related disorder, in which the nasal passages are blocked during sleep. This leads to episodes of interrupted breathing several times an hour. These can be as many as 60 per hour. This produces a pattern of interrupted sleep, which s harmful for a number of reasons.
Sleep apnea can have adverse health consequences. These include lack of sleep and the resultant tiredness, irritability and inability to focus. More serious problems like heart disease and stroke have been associated with sleep apnea as well. The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research reports that about 38,000 deaths each year are due to cardiovascular problems connected to sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is difficult to diagnose
Sleep apnea is very prevalent and as many as 18 million Americans may suffer from it. It very often goes undiagnosed and it’s estimated that 2 to 4% of all Americans may suffer from undiagnosed sleep apnea. This means that one person in fifty has undiagnosed sleep apnea.
As well as health risks, undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea causes other problems. A person suffering from lack of sleep due to interrupted sleep may be at risk when operating heavy machinery or driving. Interrupted sleep also affects the workplace in the form of lower productivity.

Sleep apnea treatment
Sleep apnea is difficult to diagnose because the sufferer is by definition asleep when the episodes occur. The disorder can be identified when the sleeper is observed during sleep. Once diagnosed, sleep apnea treatments include the use of cpap machines and nose masks to keep the nasal passages open during sleep.
The nose masks and machines can take some getting use to and many people report that they don’t use them enough to make a difference. One of the reasons why cpap masks are uncomfortable is that they tend to dry out the nasal passages. To counter this and to improve cpap machine effectiveness, a humidifier can be used. This is especially useful for patients over 60 years of age, who are five times more likely to require heated humidification of cpap machines.

Sleep apnea can be dangerous if left untreated. Using a cpap machine can help many sufferers. However, many people find these very uncomfortable and stop using them or don’t use them for the recommended periods of time. For full cpap machine effectiveness, they should be used on a regular basis and for the recommended amount of time each night. Humidifiers can help some people become accustomed to their cpap machines and nasal masks.