Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sleep apnea and cancer

Just when you thought that you have heard about every bad thing that can happen to a sleep apnea sufferers, two more studies come out that suggest that there is a connection between cancer and sleep apnea.

The New York Times Well Blog describe how one of the tests in Spain suggested that  the most severe sleep apnea patients have a 65 percent chance of developing cancer than those folks without it. The other study was in Wisconsin where they looked at 1500 government workers and determined that they have 5 times the rate of dying from cancer than those who don’t have sleep apnea.

Of course these tests aren’t a 100 percent certainty that there is a connection between sleep apnea and cancer, but it does make you wonder. I’d imagine that the use of CPAP on a regular basis would probably be helpful at lowering the odds of getting cancer from sleep apnea, but the report didn’t look at that.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sleep walking and sleep apnea

I remember as a child having episodes of sleepwalking. It really didn’t seem to bother me much until I woke during a walk in the middle of night in another room in the house. It was very disorienting to slowly realize that you don’t know where you are. My parent didn’t seem concerned assuming that I would just outgrow it and I did. I wondered whether my other sleep problem, which is sleep apnea, might have something to do with that.

According to Science DailyNearly 1 in 10 patients with obstructive sleep apnea also experience "parasomnia" symptoms such as sleepwalking, hallucinations and acting out their dreams” which seems strange to me considering how little sleep folks with apnea get but there is a study from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine to back it up.

Sleepwalking occurs during the “deep sleep” stage of sleep. What causes it is unknown but it might be because of mental disorders, medications, fatigue and alcohol. The majority of cases happen to children. Folks would do sleepwalk have their eyes open and they may do a number of routine activities around the house, although they wouldn’t remember them later.

A recent study has suggested that nearly 30 percent of folks in a study have had some kind of sleep walking occurrence as an adult or child according to These numbers have dramatically increased over the past 30 years.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sleep apnea and the NFL

Sleep apnea has become a major health risk for an ever growing segment of the population. Why now? There are a couple reasons such as sleep disorders and sleep apnea in particular has gotten a lot of press over the years as health in general is being closely watched. Lack of sleep can lead to more problems than just being tired. Another health issue that is connected to sleep apnea is being overweight. The excess pounds are a major contributing fact to sleep apnea where fat in the face and neck areas can cause blockage in the back of the throat. One group of folks that seem to be affected by this is NFL players.

 According to a story on ABC GMAA new medical study finds that up to one-third of NFL players have sleep apnea, a disorder that creates serious health risks and increases the chance that players will not get a good night's sleep before they hit the gridiron.”

That is mind boggling but certainly believable considering excess weight is a big part of sleep apnea. Being over 300 pounds isn’t out of the norm for a lot of players especially line men. And having a large thick neck along with being heavy also ups the odds of getting sleep apnea.

It seems certain that the league is taking sleep apnea very seriously considering all the health risks that are involved for the players.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

What is Titration?

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is using a CPAP machine where air is pushed through a tube into your throat to keep your airway open. While it sounds rather simple there are quite a few issues that are involved with this process with the biggest being the comfort of wearing a mask at night and having air forced into your throat. Not everyone can get used to the mask but many do. What does get a little tricky is how much air pressure is taken through the mask. This is called titration.

If you think that you have sleep apnea your first step should be to your general practitioner who will send you on to a sleep specialist, who are typically ENTs or pulmonologists (respiratory doctors). If the sleep specialist thinks that you may have sleep apnea then they will set up a sleep study which will determine whether you have sleep apnea or not.

In my case the first sleep study was just to determine if I had sleep apnea whereas some folks have a split study where the second half of the night the sleep technicians put a CPAP mask on you.  The technicians will monitor your sleeping or lack of it from another room. They can also adjust the amount of air that is going through your CPAP mask. Hopefully at the end of the study the sleep techs will have enough information to send to your doctor to recommend a titration setting on the CPAP machine.

If you do decide to try the CPAP machine the titration rate will be adjusted for you by a sleep tech. usually a nurse or someone who specializes in CPAP setting will come out to your house with the CPAP and set it up for you.

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