Here’s some food for thought: an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Out of those 22 million, approximately 80% of cases of moderate or severe sleep apnea are undiagnosed. (According to sleepapnea.org) Let that sink in: 80% of people with moderate to severe sleep apnea don’t even know they have sleep apnea, and are therefore not treating it.
For a condition that, when untreated, is associated with a laundry list of health complications, an undiagnosed rate of 80% is a big deal. A very big deal. Here is a just a glimpse at the health conditions and complications associated with untreated sleep apnea:
- high blood pressure
- chronic heart failure
- increased risk of fatal traffic accidents
- liver problems
- relationship problems due to loud and persistent snoring
The list goes on. For a condition that is associated with so many health and quality-of-life issues, why is the rate of diagnosis so low? For one thing, the symptoms of sleep apnea are often overlooked. In America, being tired seems like a normal state. According to Medical Daily, “the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 30 percent, or 40.6 million, of American adults are sleeping six or fewer hours a day.” (www.medicaldaily.com) The diagnosis of sleep apnea is especially tricky in women, who typically report symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, and depression rather than snoring or gasping for air during sleep. Often, this leads to misdiagnosis. “Sleep apnea in women is commonly mistaken for depression, hypertension, hypochondria or other disorders.” (www.eossleep.com)
The signs of sleep apnea vary from nighttime indicators to daytime symptoms, from physical signs to psychological, mental, or emotional indicators. Here are nine sleep apnea warning signs to watch for:
1. Loud or excessive snoring
2. Daytime sleepiness
3. Paused breathing during sleep
4. Gasping, choking, or abrupt awakening during sleep
5. Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
6. Morning headaches
7. High blood pressure
8. Irritability or depression
9. Difficulty concentrating
If you or your bed partner have any of the above symptoms, you should consult with a health care professional about testing for sleep apnea as soon as possible. 80% is a drastically high rate of undiagnosed cases of a condition that can cause so much damage when untreated. Share this information with friends and family – you never know who’s health and quality of life is suffering because of sleep apnea. It’s up to us to spread the word and help bring awareness to those we love.
If you’re in Colorado, give Sleep Treatment Solutions a call. We specialize in helping patients connect with providers who can set them up with home sleep tests. One night of sleep testing can change your life!
Don’t forget to share this post with family, friends, and loved ones. You never know who you are helping by sharing these symptoms of sleep apnea!