Snoring, Breathing and Saving Lives

I just returned from giving a presentation on Sleep Breating Disorders at Blinn College Dental Hygiene department and I am always surprised at how many people don't know they probably have a sleeping disorder.  It makes me sad.  Even among the group I talked with today at least 30 people raised their hands when I described the symptoms.  It did make me feel good however, when several people came up to me after the presentation and said, "You were talking about my husband!  I am going to make sure that he gets tested."  At least I know I was connecting with some of the audience. 

I am very passionate about this subject because I was diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea about 18 months ago, and wear an oral device (like a retainer) when I sleep.  This device keeps me from snoring, but more importantly, it keeps me breathing when I sleep. 

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is where you stop breathing in your sleep because of an obstruction (usually your tongue).  This usually begins with simple snoring and progresses into apnea, where you stop breathing.  This is becoming the #1 chronic disease in our country and around the world.  If left untreated, it will shorten your life expectency by 20%. 

Predictors include:

  • snoring
  • gasping for breath when sleeping
  • falling asleep during the day
  • large necks (>17" for men,  >15" for women)
  • overweight
  • High Blood pressure

If you only took away one message out of all of my posts, I would hope it would be (for you or someone you suspect)  to get checked for sleep apnea.