For at least 7 years my family had complained about my snoring. I tried the nasal strips, nose drops, raising my head while sleeping, losing weight, all of the popular ideas, but nothing helped. Apnea never crossed my mind until I found out my mother, who has always been thin, was diagnosed with the condition. Unfortunately she would never do anything about it and eventually died from fibrosis of the lungs, probably as a result of the untreated apnea (recent studies have shown a correlation).
In addition to my snoring I noticed that my HDL levels were well below normal. Even when I was exercising 40 minutes a day, in great shape, and eating right, the snoring continued and the HDL levels never rose. I would fall asleep at my desk at work, had headaches when I got up in the morning, and fell asleep watching TV in the evening. How or why I went to the doctor to see about a sleep test, I can't even remember but the test came back with a diagnosis of severe obstructive sleep apnea. After a second test I was prescribed a continuous flow CPAP machine.
The good news was that within a year my HDL levels rose to "normal". I had not changed my diet or exercise routine (was retired by then) so the only variable was the CPAP machine. The bad news was that from the first night I suffered from painful gas. It took over a year of research and working with my HMO to discover that because of my hiatal hernia (another study has shown that over half of apnea patients also have gastric problems) the continuous pressure CPAP just pumped me full of air every night. When I was finally able to get a auto titrating CPAP the gas problems stopped.
What I had was NOT aerophagia, which is a term ascribed to the condition by many doctors, but gastric insufflation, which can be very dangerous. The other, more insidious result of the bloating is that many straight CPAP users simply stop using their machines because they don't realize they can get relief from an auto machine.
Apnea is a killer. Google the internet and you will see that diabetes, stroke, heart problems, lung diseases, and hardening of the arteries are just some of the nasty things that can occur if apnea is not treated. The good thing is that if apnea is caught in time many of the problems can be headed off. In my case I hope that I found out soon enough to prevent the problems experienced by my mother, grandmother, and great aunt due to hardened arteries (as indicated by low HDL levels).
For many obese people, whose apnea is the result of their obesity, a "cure" is as simple as losing weight. Of course, if these folks also have the inherited factors (as I did) that lead to OSA (obstructive sleep anpea), losing weight may lessen the problem but will not cure it.
If you are always tired, have headaches in the morning, and snore (all people with apnea snore but not all people who snore have apnea), you may have apnea. Only a sleep test can confirm the diagnosis. The CPAP is not the only treatment but is 100% effective.
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