Why a Sleep Study?
We need to encourage our patients. This is especially true this time of year when holidays are foremost in people's minds. So why do we need to treat sleep apnea? There are so many reasons, but most people do not realize they have symptoms -- they just think this is what normal is.
One of the men I work with is a typical example. He is a middle-age many who is overweight and has an 18+ inch neck. He looks tired and tells me he wakes up every two hours during the night but that is just because he has a stressful job. He does not need a sleep study because he does not have high blood pressure or any health issues.
So how do you convince someone like this to talk to his doctor about sleep apnea? Well if he is a truck driver or a pilot his work now requires that he have a study. If he does not have health issues then maybe you need to look at some of the reasons outside of blood pressure, MI and stroke because everyone believes it will happen to someone else. Then there is the vanity issue and the fact that people look healthier and have fewer wrinkles if they treat their sleep apnea. There is also the correlation between glaucoma, colon cancer and memory and sleep deprivation.
There are issues specific to women and sleep as well. The fact that women have some protection from the effects of sleep apnea when they are young changes as they become premenopausal and menopausal. That protection not only goes away, but women actually become more symptomatic at lower apnea levels. Women also need to know that snoring and sleep apnea do not go hand-in-hand --with central apnea and hypopnea there is no snoring or very mild snoring.
It is up to us to educate our patients when we are scheduling their appointments. It is essential that we educate the public because there are those out on the web who will tell people that sleep apnea is nothing but a money-making scheme. There are those who say that a 50% compliance rate proves that we do not have to treat sleep apnea. (I will talk about his fallacy of compliance rates and us being hung out to dry about it in mynext blog.) What we need to do is share our knowledge and passion and I need more sleep geeks out there sharing the love.
Have a great holiday and I hope you do not get snowed in.