Posts tagged CPAP therapy

An alarm clock with sheep (counting sheep) to denote the consequences of hypersomnia.

Hypersomnia: Causes and Treatment

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Characterized as either excessive amounts of time spent tired or asleep during the day, hypersomnia affects around 0.5% of Americans each and every year. Although this doesn’t sound like a huge amount, it accounts for 1.6 million people and this is only the number that seek treatment (the amount who don’t seek medical treatment is thought to be significant). In fact, the National Sleep Foundation believes 40% of us to experience the symptoms of hypersomnia to some degree.

In terms of the health condition itself, the sufferers have trouble staying awake through the day whether it’s at work, at home, or even while driving. While the problem is purely related to sleep, it has all sorts of side-effects such as a lack of energy and trouble concentrating on even simple tasks.

Causes of Hypersomnia

When looking for causes, it’s hard to look past two other sleep conditions; narcolepsy and sleep apnea. While the former is related to daytime sleepiness once again, the latter deals with interruptions within the normal breathing patterns as you sleep. Both of these issues lead to hypersomnia and make it hard to stay awake during daylight.

After this, we could also point to the following:

  • Being Overweight
  • Alcohol or Drug Abuse
  • Lack of Sleep (Night)
  • Prescription Drugs (Antihistamines or Tranquilizers)
  • Neurological Diseases (Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis)
  • Depression
  • Genetics

With so many different causes, it’s important to see a medical professional who can assess the issue and ask the right questions. While the internet and fantastic guides like this can give you an overview, we can’t provide you with personalized advice. In truth, your hypersomnia could be a combination of these causes.

A sleeping man on an orange background, to suggest hypersomnia in the daytime hours.

Hypersomnia can be caused by many different issues so it’s important for a healthcare professional to assess what they are and provide you with the treatment you need.

Treatment

When you first spot the pattern of drowsiness throughout the day, this is where your doctor should come in. Initially, they’ll discuss your personal life, including your sleeping habits, to get a better idea of why this might be happening. In addition to your sleep, they might also ask whether you’ve been through a stressful situation recently or whether you’re currently taking any drugs (prescription or otherwise).

If they can pinpoint the issue immediately, they’ll start working towards a solution as soon as possible. If not, they may take blood tests, a CT scan, and even a polysomnography; this is a sleep test where your brain waves are measured alongside your heart rate, breathing, and oxygen levels within the blood. If necessary, an EEG (electroencephalogram) could examine your electrical brain activity.

Depending on the cause, the doctor will take appropriate steps as a solution and this could involve stimulants, Provigil, Xyrem, or antidepressants. As mentioned, the applicable treatment will entirely depend on the issue.  Sleep apnea, for example, may require a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). With this treatment, you’ll wear a small mask over your face and this goes directly into a machine. Through the night, you’ll be provided with a flow of air to the nostrils which counteracts the condition. As the air flows into the nostrils, it keeps the airways open and you shouldn’t wake up in the night.

If you’ve been offered medication in the past and this didn’t work, don’t worry because they can switch your dosage or try a different solution. Sometimes, people need a heavier dose or a slightly different drug if the first didn’t have the intended reaction within the body. Often, people try medication once, feel disappointed with the results, and then forget the doctor altogether but this doesn’t have to be the case.

As we’ve seen, hypersomnia can also be caused by weight issues and a lack of sleep at night; sometimes, we get into the habit of staying up until 2am before the alarm then goes off for work at 6am. Although we all need different levels of sleep to operate, a sleep pattern of this nature won’t do any good at all. If your issue is one of these two causes, your doctor will recommend an adjustment to your lifestyle. Once again, it all depends on the cause but your solution might be a reduction in caffeine, more sleep at night, a diet to lose weight, less alcohol, etc.

If you’re currently suffering from hypersomnia, be sure to get medical attention because you don’t want to self-diagnose and then choose the wrong treatment. Instead, get assessed and have yourself back up to full health as soon as possible!

A man is sleeping in bed. He is wearing one of many CPAP machines given to patients with sleep apnea.

CPAP Machines Ineffective at Treating Heart Risk

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A man is sleeping in bed. He is wearing one of many CPAP machines given to patients with sleep apnea.

Researchers call into question whether or not CPAP machines are effective at fighting heart conditions. 

Continuous positive airway pressure machines, or CPAP machines, are devices designed to help sleep apnea patients. It is effective at combating the symptoms of those with breathing problems or sleep apnea.

Since sleep apnea is a condition that can lead to other disorders, many scientists believe that CPAP treatments would be effective against them. However, a new study suggest that CPAP machines do not help to alleviate heart risk in those with sleep apnea.

CPAP Machines and Heart Risk

For years, scientists have noticed that there is a connection between sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease – particularly in men.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, men with severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are 58% more likely to develop congestive heart failure than men without sleep apnea. Some studies in the past have suggest that patients who regularly underwent CPAP treatments were less likely to experience instances of a stroke or heart attack.

A recent study called the Sleep Apnea Cardiovascular Endpoints (SAVE) study, which is managed by the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health of Flinders University of South Australia, determined that CPAP machines is not as effective at reducing heart risk as scientists have believed. This multicenter study tested 2,717 patients from 89 medical centers in seven countries. The patients had moderate to severe OSA, coronary artery or cerebrovascular disease and most of them were older males with a snoring issue.

In order to test how the CPAP machines affected their heart conditions, the researcher separated the patients. One group was required to practice healthy sleeping habits, while the other was required the same plus CPAP therapy. The second group was required to use the machines at least 3 hours per night.

The study lasted 1 week and what researchers found was that patients using CPAP machines did not show any improvements over those who did not. However, the machines are still successful against sleep apnea. More research need to be done to truly determine if CPAP cannot help those with sleep apnea related heart risk.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Reduces Hospital Emergencies

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Sleep apnea is a common condition among Americans, and while most people do not take the disorder seriously, prolonged treatment can make the situation worse. According to a recent study, hospitalized patients with a high-risk for sleep apnea are more likely to require emergency medical assistance during their hospital stay. Doctors suggest that treatment can be the key to reducing these hospital emergencies.

Hospital Emergencies

An extended stay at the hospital is a cause for concern. This usually means your condition is severe, and doctors will have to monitor you in case you have a medical emergency.  The scientists of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University wanted to investigate the relationship between these hospital emergencies and high-risk sleep apnea patients.

Reasons for hospital emergencies include significant changes in blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, mental status, seizure, symptoms of a stroke, or chest pain. These are all serious and deadly changes within patients that require emergency care.

Initial screening involved 2,590 patients with sleep-disordered breathing. Once researchers established that patients with a high-risk for sleep apnea experienced more rapid response events during their hospital stay, they moved on to testing the effectiveness of positive airway pressure (PAP) treatment.

“When we treated these patients with appropriate sleep apnea therapy, the frequency of rapid response events decreased in compliant patients,” said Sunil Sharma, M.D., Associate Professor at Thomas Jefferson University and pulmonologist with Jefferson Sleep Disorders Center.

Sleep apnea is not a condition you should ignore. “The study suggests the important role of treating underlying sleep apnea to improve patient safety and quality in the hospital. We recommend a multi-centric prospective study to confirm these findings and determine the cost benefit of such initiative to improve hospital patient safety,” Dr. Sharma said.

Patients who ignore their symptoms and neglect treatment put themselves at even-further risk. Whether a patient is high-risk or low-risk, precautionary measures have to be taken.

Truck Crashes Rise Due to Drivers’ Untreated Sleep Apnea

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Delaying treatment of obstructive sleep apnea can affect your daily life. Impaired breathing leads to difficulty sleeping, which leads to daytime sleepiness. However, not treating your sleep apnea can result in disastrous consequences. According to a recent study, commercial drivers who failed to properly manage their obstructive sleep apnea were more likely to cause truck crashes.

Untreated Sleep Apnea and Truck Crashes

The recent research is considered the largest study related to obstructive sleep apnea and crash risk among drivers of commercial motor vehicles. Scientists gathered 1,613 truck drivers with obstructive sleep apnea, and an equal number who do not (the control group), to participate in the study. Their hope was to find out how well truck drivers with sleep apnea performed on the road—when they consistently used treatment.

The truck drivers with obstructive sleep apnea were prescribed positive airway pressure therapy, otherwise known as PAP therapy. The researchers decided to give the drivers an automatic-adjusting machine that could be used at home or in the truck sleeper berth while on the road. The drivers who consistently followed through with the treatment performed just as well on the road as the control group. However, the rate of preventable truck crashes was five times higher among those who did not actively use their PAP therapy.

A common symptom of untreated sleep apnea is daytime sleepiness. This could be the cause of the rise in preventable truck crashes among drivers with sleep apnea.

Consequences of Neglected Treatment

“This study emphasizes that untreated obstructive sleep apnea is a pervasive threat to transportation safety,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s President Dr. Nathaniel Watson, who was not a part of the study.

Dr. Watson is not the only one who feels this way. Schneider, the North American trucking firm that researchers used to gather data for the study, terminated the drivers who did not adhere to sleep apnea treatments. However, they seem to be one of the few companies actively monitoring truck drivers with sleep apnea. Most trucking firms are not required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to institute mandatory sleep apnea screening. This is something medical experts are recommending needs to be changed.

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