Don’t think for a second that the typical patient with sleep apnea is a fat man with a thick neck.

Skinny young women can be diagnosed with this often misdiagnosed and very common condition.

In fact, it’s estimated that 25 percent of the population has obstructive sleep apnea, and that millions of people go through life having no idea that they have this condition.

Its symptoms, such as morning headaches, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating and having to use the toilet several times overnight are often passed off as symptoms of other conditions such as stress and age.

Obstructive sleep apnea is strongly linked to serious illnesses including heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

In addition, “People with sleep apnea are more likely to develop insulin resistance even if not overweight,” says Daniel Rifkin, MD, a sleep medicine expert at the Sleep Medicine Centers of Western New York.

“With this condition, cells don’t respond as well to the hormone insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

“Sleep apnea can cause decreased oxygen to the optic nerve, which can result in nerve damage.” This can then lead to glaucoma.

“Sleep apnea has been linked to fatty liver disease,” continues Dr. Rifkin. “The severity of the liver disease often corresponds with the severity of the sleep apnea.

“A lot goes on in the brain during sleep. One of those things is the consolidation of memories. With apnea-interrupted sleep, you may have memory problems.”

Learn More About Obstructive Sleep Apnea by Visiting the Articles Below – in Plain English

All About the “Masks”

Crushing the Myths

Mild OSA

Peeing Overnight

Polysomnography (sleep study for diagnosis)

Scourge of Untreated OSA

Symptoms

What You Thought You Knew…

Dr. Rifkin is the CEO of Ognomy, a virtual sleep apnea practice that remotely connects physicians with patients, providing testing, diagnosis and treatment from one’s home.

Dr. Rifkin is board certified in both neurology and sleep medicine. He also treats insomnia, RLS and narcolepsy. His site is danielrifkinmd.com.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

 

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Top image: Habib M’henni, /Wikimedia Commons