According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common and serious disease prevailing in the country. Screening populations who are at high-risk for sleep apnea could improve health outcomes and quality of life for patients who suffer while also reducing the frequency of undiagnosed OSA. Here are a few reasons to screen for sleep apnea.
There is No Harm in Checking
Not screening for sleep apnea can potentially increase lives lost, healthcare costs, and accidents involved. Initial screenings are economical.The only harm is possibly doing a few unnecessary tests.
Missing Sleep Apnea Symptoms
A huge reason to promote screening for sleep apnea is that out of 22 million people in America that suffer. 80 percent of moderate to severe cases go undiagnosed. Many people just simply miss the symptoms and don’t even know they have a problem. A common symptom of sleep apnea is snoring, which many people mistake as harmless and not a symptom. Also, many of the symptoms can be easily attributed to something else like fatigue or a case of the “Monday’s”.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms Often Misdiagnosed
Additionally, doctors misdiagnose sleep apnea patients often. Doctors can mistake sleep apnea symptoms for the consequences of obesity, smoking, alcohol abuse, depression, insomnia, hypothyroidism, narcolepsy, etc. If individuals are not aware that they are experiencing symptoms of a serious illness, they won’t tell their doctor. Therefore many do not receive adequate treatment. Doctors often don’t think to screen for sleep apnea in asymptomatic patients so it is important for patients to be active in taking the initial step. The more the doctor routinely screens for sleep apnea, the more likely it will be on their mind when diagnosing patients with similar symptoms.
Serious Consequences Can Occur if Left Untreated
Disrupted sleep night after night due to untreated sleep apnea can cause serious strain on the body. A study of sleep problems in the general population shows some alarming findings. over an 18-year period, people with severe, untreated sleep apnea died at a rate more than three times than of those without apnea. If left untreated, studies show that sleep apnea can cause weight gain, depression, stroke, heart disease, hypertension, sexual dysfunction, or even cancer.