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What is sleep apnea?

October 28, 2019 — Tamara Castellano

Do you ever wake up gasping for air? Does your partner repeatedly complain that you snore loudly—so loudly you can be heard through a door or wall? Do you experience extreme fatigue throughout the day? If you answered yes to any of the questions above, it may be a sign you have sleep apnea.

While you may feel alone, sleep apnea is an incredibly common and treatable condition. In a recent study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, one in four individuals were diagnosed with sleep apnea, while 10 million people in the United States are going undiagnosed.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that is caused by repeated stops and starts in your breathing when you sleep. There are three types of sleep apnea. 

  • Obstructive sleep apnea. This is the most common and happens when your throat muscles relax.
  • Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain sends the wrong signals to the muscles that control breathing.
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome. A combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

What are the risk factors of sleep apnea?

It’s important to understand that sleep apnea can affect anyone, at any age, including children.  Here is a list of some of the common risk factors associated with sleep apnea.

  • Excess weight and obesity
  • Large neck circumference
  • Your gender—men are more likely to develop the disorder
  • If you’re 50 or older
  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • Use of alcohol or sedatives
  • Nasal congestion (from allergies or anatomical issues)

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Many of the signs of sleep apnea are common for other disorders so the condition can sometimes be misdiagnosed.  Some of the symptoms include:

  • Gasping, choking or coughing;
  • Snoring;
  • Morning headaches;
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness;
  • Insomnia; and
  • Restless sleep

What to do if you think you are at risk or have sleep apnea.

Preventative care is the most important step in reducing the long-term side effects that sleep apnea can have on your overall health, such as high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. It is also associated with type 2 diabetes, glucose intolerance, depression, and can increase your risk of a traffic accident as a result of driving drowsy.

If you think you may be at risk, or if you have any of the symptoms above, take action, and get tested.

The UP Health Complete Sleep Program

At UP Health, we offer most members access to our Complete Sleep Program. Follow these steps to get tested and determine your risk:

  1. Make an appointment with your doctor and provide your sleep history
  2. Take the home sleep test prescription order form linked below to your provider
    1. A home sleep test will determine how many apnea and hypopnea (how many times you stop breathing) events you experience per hour
  3. Have your doctor fax the prescription to 801-595-2051
  4. Once the prescription is received, the Complete Sleep Program team will give you a call
  5. You’ll take the test from the comfort of your home when it’s convenient for your schedule
  6. You will have your results in as little as one week

If you already have a diagnosis for sleep apnea, have your doctor send a prescription to (801) 595-2051. All CPAP machines and supplies are required to be dispensed through UP Health to be covered by the plan.

If you have any questions about getting tested or other inquiries about the Complete Sleep Program, please call (833) 878-2727 to speak with one of our sleep program coordinators.

Written by

Tamara Castellano

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