Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Does your Bed Partner Have Sleep Apnea?

Simple snoring can be amusing, frustrating or annoying to others. Loud, incessant snoring is a different animal. It can be a symptom of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious disease. The good news is that treatments improve every year. Getting tested and treated for sleep apnea has real impact on longevity and quality of life.
Many patients are tested for sleep apnea only because their bed partners drag them into the sleep lab. If you sleep with a snorer, you know how distressing it is to hear someone stop breathing in the middle of the night – then hear the loud snort/gasp that comes with the ability to breathe again. Some of these individuals wake up and hear the noise themselves. However, most remain blissfully asleep (well, not technically, but they don’t wake enough to know it).
People with sleep apnea attribute their daytime sleepiness to stress, hard work, or aging. So, it’s up to bed partners to let snorers know what’s happening during sleep.
If you think the snorer you sleep with may have sleep apnea, do whatever it takes to get him/her to see a physician. The risks of not treating apnea include high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and diabetes. Sleep apnea patients also have more drowsy related accidents. Trust us, this is not something to ignore.
Don’t be surprised if the snorer denies what is going on and accuses a bed partner of exaggeration. But don’t give up. Persistence is vital. Enlist the help of other people in the house (or next door, if the snoring is loud enough).
If your bed partner’s snoring is heroic in volume, and s/he refuses treatment, getting out of the bedroom (either by having him/her move out or moving yourself out) may be the best answer. It won’t help the physical damage the snorer suffers, but it can save a marriage, and the mental health of the snorer’s bed partner.

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