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Snored to death: The symptoms and dangers of untreated sleep apnea

August 5, 2020

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photo of Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS, Contributor

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN FAHS is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and holds clinical positions at three HMS affiliated institutions. He serves as the Director of Continuing Medical Education at … See Full Bio
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Carl Kolenda
March 9, 2017

Last November, 2016, after two sleep studies, I was diagnosed with severe “brain central” OSA-Sleep Apnea. I am 75. Since December 15, I have been using a cpap mask with a ResMed AirCurve V10 auto (BiPap) machine.
I average nightly 8 hours of sleep. I started out with 47.5/hour AHI (apneas and hypopneas incidents per hour). After several increases in my pressure from 12/25 -almost no help, to 18/25, for past 2-months, my AHI is at my goal of 2-5 AHI per hour. The good news is that my blood oxygen levels went from as low as 84% to a normal 95% and above.
I am personally disappointed. After 3-months, I am still just as tired when I get up as before and I still have to take afternoon naps ( over an hour each day). I know technically the cpap machine is helping me. However, I do feel any better than before I started on the machine December 15th! I never miss using the machine daily

Glynis McFarlane
March 4, 2017

I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea in 2014 & have real problems sleeping & physically exhausted due to only sleeping 30 to 60 minutes at a time xx. This has got worse since doctor reduced my sedative mess for ptsd & flashbacks . I also have tumours in my thyroid which may cause obstruction ?? Not happy not having my sedative meds that helped . Would an oral appliance help me ? What is an oral appliance & how does it work with cpap ?? I get up t toilet every 30 to 60 minutes too xx. Have lots of mucous that blocks my airways & is really painful to cough up to clear airways & with cpap I panic to get mask off choking with mucous .. is there anything that helps this or makes more barable .. ? My consultant thinks I have a condition called Bronchiectasis linked to having whooping cough & pneumonia & passive smoking from my dads pub from age of 7 which we lived above & was so smoky we had to gasp for air when smoke was extremely bad when busy . Would a bi pap be better suited to me

Ronald T. Plotka, DDS, PC
March 2, 2017

If you snore you may have sleep apnea. Most people have never heard of sleep apnea. Well it’s a real entity. It’s when a person frequently stops breathing during sleep. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and a multitude of other health issues. If you’re tired all day, doze at the wheel of your car, feel like you can’t get enough sleep, then tell your physician or dentist. A sleep study can be ordered to see if you have obstructive sleep apnea.
Don’t risk your life , ask your spouse or significant other if they hear you snore or see you struggling to breath while sleeping.

Briggs Agnes
March 1, 2017

This article is very useful and educative.
Thank you to the editor. Great job.

Tarin Sultana
February 28, 2017

I shared this article with my Parents. They have difficulty in releasing oxygen to their brains during sleep.

Joanne Bedard
February 28, 2017

I suffer from Sleep apnea and have suffered for many man years without knowing it.. finally had the test done and it was pretty serious results.. now I’m on the CPAP machine and can’t live without it.. life changer for sure..

Lakshmi pillai
February 27, 2017

Its very nice to read such articles which is very helpful.
But remedy is also necessary.
Regarding snoring,can u pls give remedy for the same for females aged after 45 yrs
Thank u

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS
March 1, 2017

If you suspect you have a sleep breathing disorder, you should consult a physician with expertise in sleep medicine.

Martha Otis
February 27, 2017

I want to know if taking Sleeping pill or valium or other pills is a bad idea – because you don’t get the right kind of sleep…?

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS
March 1, 2017

Sleep medications can be helpful, but can also mask an underlying diagnosis. If sleep apnea is suspected, a sleep study should be performed prior to initiating sleep medications.

Mary A Foley
February 27, 2017

I fail to see the relationship between sleep apnea and letting pets sleep on one’s bed. Was this paragraph one that escaped from another article?

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS
March 1, 2017

Pets in the bed tend to cause sleep disruptions, which can cause similar symptoms as sleep apnea.

sola Talabi -neurologist, Abeokuta, nigeria
February 27, 2017

sleep apnea is actually own played in sub saharan west africa. i am very convinced its clearly unidentified ,undiagnosed and untreated in most cases

given the attendant risks i believe medical personnel may need to probe into any one with excessive day time sleepiness

i must however say that even when pockets of clinicians make the diagnosis, treatment options are not available

February 27, 2017

Hello, thank you for the alarming info.. now, how do I treat night apneas on my 10 yr old whose dustmite allergy keeps his turbinates chronically swollen and the only alleviating treatment has been living by the sea? We do not live by the sea anymore and I have been advised to do daily multi nose cleanses with hypertonic sea water spray, and that’s what I have been doing for the past 9 yrs…together with other natural and less natural sprays, and homeopathic remedies. But there must be a better cure!! Doctor can you help us?

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS
March 1, 2017

He may benefit from an ENT surgical evaluation.

S in Arizona
February 27, 2017

I was diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea in 2014. Have been using a cpap ever since. I am still incompliance, but it’s very frustrating because still get up at night. Tried sleeping without the cpap once and found I couldn’t nod off. Is is possible to get addicted to cpap? lol As for pets, I find if I don’t let my cat sleep with me she gets quite upset. So she sleeps at the foot of the bed. So far no problems.

Pete Skinner
February 27, 2017

An excellent article. I’ve had periods of sleep problems, and periods of generally good sleep. I seem to have benefited from using melatonin. 5 mg.

February 27, 2017

I awaken 2 times per night to urinate. I can’t go back to sleep unless I go to the bathroom. I often can’t return to sleep for an hour after this. I restrict my fluids all evening. I also awaken a few other times, but can go back to sleep. Isn’t this disruptive sleep due to having to urinate? I may have a small bladder. I started Detrol, but it doesn’t work to eliminate nighttime urination. What can I do?

Aruodo Uche
February 27, 2017

I’ve been using a bipap for a year.

brian Clarke
February 27, 2017

I have both kinds of sleep apnea stopping breathing 40 to 50 times per hour have not had a refreshed sleep since my teenage years (67 now)
I have a CPAP machine now that aids in my breathing occurances are down to 2 to 15 per hour each night is different
This could save your life

Dana Blankschtein Tilkin
February 23, 2017

At least I got this one covered! Ruled out sleep apnea with a sleep study a few years ago. Super important, and my mom is having an in-home one next week. I will share this article with her. Thank you so much!

Bruce Boyle
February 27, 2017

I have APNEA (diagnosed in a sleep study). I have slept using a CPAP for nearly 20 years. Lately (I am 67) I have noticed that when I do wake up at night (and I do in the last couple of years) I cannot get back to sleep while using the CPAP. I have taken to leaving it off after that first get up (usually 4-6 hours). Of course I don’t need as much sleep as I did when I was young but still find 7.5 to be best. I know that I snored terribly before I used the machine. Not now (when I have it on). No one there to tell if I snore after I leave it off. One thing however is that the condition of the uvula improves when using the machine so it should be less for those few hours.

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