The snoring from sleep apnea may disturb your household. The other symptoms of sleep apnea – interrupted breathing, shortness of breath, reduced oxygen – can eventually endanger your life. For the sake of yourself and the people around you, follow these steps to manage your condition.
- First and foremost, ask your physician for help. “Sleep apnea is a common – and serious – condition,” says Bradley K. Bittle, MD, FCCP, D-ABSM, pulmonologist/sleep medicine physician at Saint Francis Medical Center. “If you snore loudly at night or feel extremely sleepy during the day, you should not ignore your potential for sleep apnea. Seek medical attention if you suffer any of the following symptoms: loud snoring, breathing cessation during sleep or abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath. Awakening with a sore throat or headache is another sign.”
- Use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. “CPAP machines are a safe, easy and effective solution for many sleep apnea patients,” says Bittle. “Patients get used to wearing the mask because they know it’s helping them breathe and sleep better.”
- Exercise and lose weight. “In addition to improving your overall health, exercising will make you more tired at night,” says Bittle. “Perhaps more importantly, losing weight will help alleviate your sleep apnea.”
- Take action. The one thing you should not do is nothing. “Sleep apnea is too dangerous to ignore, since it literally takes your breath away,” says Bittle. “While you sleep, the disorder repeatedly interrupts your breathing and reduces oxygen to your body and brain. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, diabetes and depression.”
For more information call 573-331-3000.