Earlier this week a new season of Roseanne, the sitcom that ended in the 90’s, aired a new episode. Prominently featured in the first few minutes of the show is the main character’s husband, Dan, alive and well, wearing a sleep apnea mask.
Roseanne exclaims, “I thought you were dead,” as she wakes him up. You can see the clip in the trailer.
Over the 21 years the show has been off the air, the character Dan has likely been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a condition that affects 18 million Americans.
What is Sleep Apnea?
The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep apnea occurs when someone has one or more pauses in breathing while sleeping. These breathing pauses usually last for a few seconds and may occur 30 times or more an hour.
The first sign of sleep apnea is often when a sleeping partner witnesses normal breathing starting again as their partner makes a loud snort or choking sound.
Sleep apnea disrupts sleep as the pauses do not allow for deep sleep. Sleep apnea is one leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Many people suffer from sleep apnea without knowing it. Loud and chronic snoring is a prevalent sign of sleep apnea. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are listed below.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Episodes of stopped breathing while asleep witnessed by another person
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Morning headaches
- Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
- Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
- Waking up frequently to urinate
- Dry mouth or a sore throat when you wake up
There are several risk factors that could indicate sleep apnea, those who experience any of the symptoms above should talk to their doctor. Other risk factors include:
- A neck circumference greater than
- >17 inches in diameter in men
- >15 inches in diameter in women
- BMI over 25
- Hypertension requiring 2 or more medications
Left untreated sleep apnea can lead to or worsen other diseases such as stroke, heart attack, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and dementia. Learn more about how sleep disorders can affect the body.
Home Sleep Tests
Those who are experiencing symptoms and believe they could be at risk for sleep apnea can talk to their doctor about home sleep testing. The home sleep test is an effective, low-cost alternative to a lab sleep study, that has a 95% accuracy for diagnosing sleep apnea. Patients take a unit home with them to track how they sleep throughout the night. Once the test is completed over 1 or 2 nights, the unit is returned, and a sleep technician will score the test. A sleep specialist can then determine a diagnosis and recommend treatment options in needed.
Treatment: Now about CPAP and the Mask
The audience may have laughed at Roseanne, but they weren’t laughing at Dan’s mask. The CPAP machine is a part of the nightly sleep routine for millions of American and is just one way to treat sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be treated with lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, breathing devices, and surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.
The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine is the most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea in adults. The machine gently blows air into the throat through a mask that is attached to the machine by an air tube. The pressure from the air helps keep the patient’s airway open while asleep.
A proper mask fit can be crucial to compliance and the effectiveness of a CPAP machine, and there are different styles for patients to use. Expert Sleep has a dedicated Respiratory Therapist who works with patients to ensure their mask is the best fit for them. Patients may need to make periodic adjustments to their machine and masks to achieve the best results with the mask.
CPAP is a very effective treatment for many patients who suffer from OSA, and many feel better when using their machines consistently while they sleep.
If you think you suffer from sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, schedule an appointment to talk to our sleep specialists today.