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Sleep apnea is a common disorder that often goes undiagnosed. If left untreated, it can result in serious health problems.
For years, Scott Wiles suffered the symptoms. “I had migraines for probably eight years to where I’d black out and wouldn’t be able to see,” he explained. “It started affecting my hearing real bad. I’d nod off in the middle of a sentence.”
Finally, a sleep study revealed Wiles was one of the millions of Americans with sleep apnea, a sleeping disorder where a person stops breathing while they are asleep.
“I’d hold my breath for two minutes at a time to where, my wife, it’d wake her up. She’d wake me up and tell me to breathe,” Wiles said.
People with sleep apnea are often sleepy and fatigued. Left untreated, a number of health problems could arise, including high blood pressure and risk of a stroke or heart problems. The good news is there is a treatment if sleep apnea is diagnosed.
CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, machines can be prescribed. The breathing machine is worn all night long, and forces air pressure through the mask to keep the sleeper’s airway open. If a doctor prescribes a CPAP machine, there are a few mask options ― nasal pillows, a nasal mask, or a full face mask.
“Some people notice a change right away. They’ll call the next day and say they haven’t slept that well in a long time,” said Monica Moore, respiratory therapist.
“I notice a big difference,” said Wiles. “I won’t sit there and just nod off in the middle of talking to someone like I had before. I’m wide awake throughout the day.” Plus, his migraines are gone, and his wife gets more rest since she no longer has to monitor him through the night. Wiles said he also has more energy to play with his daughter after work.
Respiratory therapists say most people notice the benefits of the machine in the first few nights.