SLEEP APNEA, A HEALTH HAZARD FOR SENIOR CITIZENS

Sep 12th, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is reported to affect over 18 million Americans, many of whom are likely not diagnosed.  The disorder interferes with good sleeping patterns and creates problems getting through the next day.  To insure productive aging, those affected need to be diagnosed and treated for this problem.

The Mayo Clinic and AARP websites offer assistance for those suffering from this disorder; the information presented here is a compilation of what SCJ found primarily on these two sites online.

The signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Loud snoring
  • Observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Frequent urination at night
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)

Sleep apnea occurs when the airway is blocked, either by the tongue or because it has collapsed during sleep.  The senior experiencing it usually snores loudly and disturbs her/his partner’s sleep, the first complaint heard by many victims and/or their partners.  What many may not know is that if not treated, it may be associated with high blood pressure, stroke, memory issues and diabetes (AARP).

Complaints From Spouse May Be First Sign of Sleep Apnea

In addition to complaints about snoring, one’s spouse may also report the victim gasping for air.  A senior’s body is designed to awaken if the oxygen level falls too low during sleep.   When this happens over and over again, the distress of trying to draw a breath makes you gasp or snort trying to breathe.

The other complaint coming often from victims is morning headaches.  The reason for the headaches is that with oxygen deprivation comes pain.  If untreated, those morning headaches can become severe.

So if you have any of the eight symptoms above, consult your primary care physician and ask her/him about sleep apnea.  It is a condition not to be ignored because of all the side effects.

 

 

 

 



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