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Sleep Apnea Epidemic: US Health Experts Urge Vigilance Amid Escalating Risks

Visual Representation for Sleep Apnea | Credits: AdobeStock Photo

United States: The concerns related to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – a disorder in which an individual stops breathing for 10 seconds or more at a time, have been increasing with every passing hour.

Medical experts have raised concerns because it is anticipated that if the sleep disorder is left untreated, then it may lead to serious health concerns, such as hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, and (in some cases) an early death too, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

The reports have also claimed that this disorder is known to cause a three times higher risk of dying from any other health cause.

One should encourage snorers to get professional help: Experts

Sleep specialists have suggested friends and close ones encourage snorers to get professional help as the OSA remains undiagnosed if someone doesn’t inform an individual about their nocturnal roars.

According sleep specialist and pulmonologist Dr Raj Dasgupta – who is an associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, said, “Greater than 30 million people have sleep apnea in the United States, yet it’s often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed.”

Visual Representation for Sleep Apnea | Credits: Getty Images

He continued, “It’s really misdiagnosed in women versus men because women may not present with the classic, heroic snoring that men often show,” according to reports by CNN Health.

Weird signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

In addition to this, Dr Raj Dasgupta also briefed about the weird signs and symptoms of the sleep disorder, rather than loud snoring. The signs are as follows:

Sweating at night

The Mayo Clinic, according to reports by CNN Health, underscored that while sleeping, an individual can sweat for many possible reasons, from heat waves due to climate crises or health diseases such as cancer, thyroid issues, flu, or onset of menopausal symptoms.

However, Dasgupta highlighted that as many as 30 percent of people who complained about sweating at night were dealing with obstructive sleep apnea.

“It’s because your body isn’t getting enough oxygen, you fall into this sympathetic fight-or-flight mode, which triggers night sweats,” he was quoted saying and further added, “The research showed people with OSA that had night sweats were also more likely to have really low oxygen levels on top of having obstructive sleep apnea.”

Improper sleep at night

According to the reports by the Cleveland Clinic, generally, people get up at night to empty their bladder for various reasons, including drinking too much fluid before bed, diabetes, edema, high blood pressure, alcohol overindulgence, pregnancy, and prostate issues.

However, in regard to sleep apnea, Dr Dasgupta mentioned that if an individual’s sleep is disturbed more than twice by urinating, then it can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea.

As per CNN Health, he was quoted saying, “One study found about 50% of patients with OSA had nocturia, and they noted that treatment for the sleep disorder did cut back on awakenings.”

Bruxism

Teeth grinding and clenching while sleeping is called bruxism, and it can be counted among the possible signs of obstructive sleep apnea. He said, “Certainly, anxiety and other factors can cause bruxism, but a common cause is obstructive sleep apnea. There’s a theory on why — the airway becomes obstructed, so the muscles in the mouth and jaw move to try to free the blocked airway. That’s not been proven, but it is an interesting hypothesis.”

Visual Representation

While emphasizing the precautions to follow to safeguard teeth from grinding and clenching, Dasgupta stated that mouthguards are used, depending on the dentist’s suggestion, but this doesn’t protect the jaw. He said, “So, a person might also develop TMJ (dysfunction), which is a pain in the temporomandibular joint, and that may also lead to other issues, such as headaches.”

Depression, insomnia, and fatigue

Dr Dasgupta highlighted that OSA could be diagnosed in an individual who has been going through mental issues, such as depression or other sleeping problems.

CNN News quoted him saying, “Sleep affects our ability to think, react, remember and solve problems. Women especially have a tendency to underreport atypical symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue and depression.”

He furthermore highlighted that in some cases, an individual might misinterpret the sudden awakenings with insomnia; however, he/she might be dealing with sleep apnea.

Dasgupta further highlighted that an individual can confuse the symptoms of sleep apnea with daytime fatigue, including a lack of motivation to accomplish daily tasks, memory problems, low interest in being social and a lack of productivity at work.

Morning headaches

Additionally, Dr Raj Dasgupta linked obstructive sleep apnea with waking up with a headache. He stated, “They typically occur daily or most days of the week and may last for several hours after awakening in the morning. The cause of the headaches is not well-established and may be multifactorial.”

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