Sleep Is Vital to Your Health
You've heard the complaints from your partner. Your loud snoring is keeping him or her up at night. Maybe you've been wondering why you're so tired and cranky during the day. Perhaps you can't stand the thought of another night lying in bed unable to fall asleep. These could all be signs of a serious sleep disorder. More than 60 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders including sleep apnea, insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy. Left untreated, these conditions can lead to health problems and daytime sleepiness. The sleepiness during the day can trigger accidents, loss of productivity, and trouble in your relationships.
Are you sleepy? Download the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.
Don't panic. An occasional sleep disturbance is usually nothing to worry about. So when should you be concerned?
"Everyone has a hard time falling asleep once in awhile," says sleep specialist Joanne Getsy, MD, associate professor of medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine and medical director of Drexel Sleep Medicine. "But if you are consistently tired or noticing other changes in your health, it's really important you see a doctor who can determine if you have a sleep disorder."
To schedule an appointment at Drexel Sleep Medicine, please call 215.482.0899.
One sleep disorder in particular has been gaining more attention these days. It's called sleep apnea, and it's as common as adult diabetes—affecting more than 12 million Americans—according to the National Institutes of Health. Yet the vast majority of sufferers remain undiagnosed and untreated, even though help is out there.
Apnea comes from the Greek word meaning "without breath," and that's exactly what happens to people with this condition—they literally stop breathing during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times each night and often for a minute or longer.
There are three types of apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Of the three, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common. OSA is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. Risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age or forty, but sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, even children.
"Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, and headaches," says Dr. Getsy. "But fortunately, it is treatable."
In fact, most sleep disorders are treatable once they're diagnosed. Drexel Sleep Medicine is equipped with state-of-the-art testing equipment to monitor a person's brain waves, muscle tension, eye movement, respiration, oxygen level in the blood, and sounds like snoring and gasping. The key, according to Dr. Getsy, is getting that diagnosis. "It's really crucial that a patient see a sleep specialist who can determine what's wrong and get that patient help. You'd be amazed how a person's quality of life improves once we start treatment."
For more information about sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, contact Drexel Sleep Medicine at 215.482.0899.
The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.
The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.
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