Sleep apnea a costly condition

How well you sleep can affect your work.

Snoring can kill you or someone else. Well, not snoring itself, but the condition it can indicate: sleep apnea.

The problem is so widespread that a question about snoring and sleep apnea has been put on the commercial driver’s license test. A number of drowsy driver accidents, including the death of a parked car full of teens struck by a semi-truck, drove the addition of the question.

At work, a lack of good sleep can cause problems by making you more prone to injury through accidents, decreasing your ability to learn new tasks and increasing your chance of making errors.

Those with untreated obstructive sleep apnea experience intermittent airway blockage from soft tissues in the mouth and throat, causing a person to snore, stop breathing and suffer frequent sleep interruptions that may escape notice but are unmistakable on brain wave studies. An Australian study found that after about 17 hours of wakefulness your response times equate to a blood alcohol content of .04.

If you or someone you know has had loud snoring, night-time breathing pauses, fatigue, stubborn high blood pressure or morning headaches it might be OSA. It’s definitely worth exploring. OSA is diagnosed with a nighttime brain wave test. What you don’t know can kill you. Because of the increase in associated illness, individuals with untreated sleep apnea have double the risk of dying and about double the medical bills.

Sleep apnea afflicts men more often than women but anyone is at risk if they have one of the following:

  • Body mass index greater than 30
  • Neck circumference greater than 17.5 inches
  • Loose tissue at the back of your throat

Post-menopausal women are also at risk.

–Brian Svazas