Obesity has long been recognized as being associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). For this reason weight loss is the number one recommendation to people diagnosed with OSA who are overweight or obese.
More recently we are finding that, sleep apnea may be a causative factor in many other common medical problems such as hypertension, diabetes, low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, cardiac rhythm abnormalities such as atrial fibrillation, chronic inflammatory disorders, anxiety and mood disorders.
Unless a person is morbidly obese, most conventional doctors fail to consider sleep apnea as a contributing cause when assessing patients with chronic medical problems. This is likely to be due to the fact that many of these diseases can be controlled with medications. When a disease is being controlled with medications both patients and doctors alike often become focused on medication management instead of assessing the various other factors that may contribute to the underlying cause for the disease.
All patients whether obese or not who present with chronic medical problems should be questioned about sleep habits and assessed for common risk factors related to OSA to help determine the likelihood of OSA as a contributing factor in your disease process. If you have risk factors, you should undergo a sleep study to definitively confirm or rule out the diagnosis of OSA.
Start by completing the quick assessment questionnaire below to determine if you are at risk for OSA. If you answer yes to three or more of the quick assessment questions you are at high risk and should bring your results to the attention of your health care provider.
If your risk appears high, you’ll need to undergo a more thorough risk assessment and physical examination by your health care provider. Depending on the results of the professional risk assessment by your health care provider, he or she may prescribe an in home sleep study, which is covered by most health insurance plans.
The process is seamless for you. Your doctor can have the testing company deliver the testing apparatus to your home with easy instructions for use. You’ll complete the sleep study in the comfort of your own bed during a usual nights sleep. You’ll usually have your results within 48 hrs of you completing the test.
Sleep apnea is most often treated with a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). You will wear a face-mask when you sleep at night that will be connected to a machine that sends pressurized air into your airway keeping it open, while you sleep.
Your healthcare provider should also work with you to make whatever lifestyle changes are necessary to treat the chronic medical problems you have that are associated with sleep apnea.
You will require ongoing monitoring with interval sleep studies to evaluate the need for continued treatment. This is especially the case if you achieve significant weight loss. Many people are able to eliminate the need for CPAP or medications for associated conditions with proper lifestyle changes.
Sleep Apnea Risk Assessment
Do you snore loudly? (loud enough to be heard through a closed door)
Do you often feel tired, fatigued or sleepy during the day?
Has anyone observed that you stop breathing while sleeping?
Do you have, or are you being treated for high blood pressure?
Is your BMI more than 35? (BMI calculator)
Are you more than 50 years of age?
Is your neck 17 inches or greater for men (16 inches for women)?
If you answered yes to 3 or more of the questions above, contact your healthcare provider or schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation to discuss your results.