This is the story of one of the millions of patients who have been suffering with the effects of snoring and sleep apnea for decades! For this patient, 1:00 in the afternoon couldn’t arrive quick enough. While working out of his home, the couch would call for him every afternoon for a nap. And when he was working on the road, meetings were scheduled around his 1 p.m. downtime.
And that worked for a time.
Although he was always tired, he told himself that it was normal. He worked and played hard. “Everyone is tired and they have to get over it,” was his thought. On long driving trips, he'd have what truckers call “white line fever,” where the mind wanders while driving. You get to your destination without even realizing it. If he’d start nodding off, he’d turn up the radio and roll the windows down. “Just stay awake; I’m almost there,” would be his thoughts! He’d promise to sleep in to catch up on his sleep on the weekend.
Obviously, he didn’t know that these little tricks were really very dangerous!
Eventually, he adapted to the sleep deprivation and its consequences until one day he reached the limit. He had had enough and couldn’t stand it any longer. He took a more proactive approach and discovered that lack of sleep wasn’t the problem. It was a symptom of a much larger problem that he wasn’t aware of. A problem, he found out, that if left untreated, can lead to serious health problems that include heart attacks, strokes, and even death!
And we all must be aware of a disturbing fact: The medical community commonly accepts the fact that about 90 percent — yes 90 percent — of those who have obstructive sleep apnea are not diagnosed and aren’t even aware that they have a serious medical problem that can be treated.
Why is this a fact?
Because physicians don’t ask their patients.
In the article “Evolution of Sleep Disorders in the Primary Care Setting,” which is published in Volume 7, No. 1, 2011, of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, primary care physicians were asked “How often do you ask your patients about how well they sleep?”
Physicians who self-reported said that they asked about 29 percent of patients this question. The reasons they gave that they didn’t ask a higher number of patients this question were:
• Lack of awareness of the problem
• Limited time during the appointment
• Lack of insurance coverage
• Addressing the patient's’ immediate problems
Another fact about obstructive sleep apnea is that there is currently no known cure only treatment. It is a condition that can only be treated; very seldom does it go away and that can only be determined with a sleep test.
Next week we will take up with what this patient finally did about his problem.
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Dr. Donald Johnson founded Northwest Treatment Center for Snoring & Sleep Apnea in Coeur d’Alene to help patients stop their snoring and live free with no limits!
Obstructive sleep apnea is usually able to be treated with a small oral appliance. Dr. Johnson’s office is at 114 W. Neider Ave., near Costco. The website for more information is www.NWSleepDoc.com and the office phone is (208) 667-4551. Schedule a free consultation appointment today!