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Experts say we need 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

With work, kids, and life, who has that much time to rest?

 

So when you do sleep, you hope for some good quality z's.

 

If you happen to sleep next to someone who snores, you can forget about a good nights sleep.

As you lay there awake thinking the snoring person is the one getting all the sleep, that may not be the case. The snoring may be a sign of apnea, where you stop breathing at night. Doctors say it can be a serious problem, few want to admit to having.

 

Dr. Yuzhu Tang, a Sleep Specialist at The South Bend Clinic, says the “Funny thing is, many patients come here and say I have mild or severe headaches. Never have I had a patient come here and say, I have severe sleep apnea I need to be treated.”

 

The Headaches Dr. Tang mentions are just one of the signs you may have sleep apnea. It's when someone stops breathing for a few seconds to possibly minutes during the night. This can happen dozens of times, per hour, and for the person suffering, As Dr. David Sabato, Otolaryngologist at The South Bend Clinic says, they can be completely unaware. "So the husband denies everything and the wife says we can't take it anymore. He stops breathing, he gasps, Then when I ask the husbands how do you feel when you wake up he'll often say I have a headache in the morning I'm tired, I nodded off at at stop sign on the way to work.”

 

For Alex Celie, it was his friends that tipped him off something was wrong. “My friends told me dude, you stop breathing while you were asleep. Then my mom heard about it and went to the doctor and she wanted to find out.”

 

Dr. Tang says it can be a challenge to determine if someone has sleep apnea. That's why patients are asked to fill out the Stop-Bang Sleep Apnea Questionnaire. It asks: Do you snore, how loudly do you snore? Can someone hear you outside the bathroom? If yes that's one point. And do you feel tired all the time or do you fall asleep during the day?

 

To get a better idea of what's happening while you sleep, doctors can send you home with a self test kit like an oximeter.

 

Dr Tang says it's very easy to use “all you do is clip this to your finger, press this button and bring it back to me the next morning.” 

 

If doctors really need to dig into your sleep patterns, it's off to the sleep lab to spend the night hooked to a number of devices to measure vitals like air flow, brain activity, blood pressure and heart rate.

 

Two big factors that play into sleep apnea are men that are over 50, but that's not always the case.

 

Dr. Sabato says it can happen to kids with big tonsils and adenoids and that's usually an easy diagnosis. Typically doctors take the tonsils out and problem solved. Alex wasn't so lucky. He says “My throat collapsed I get so relaxed it didn't do anything.” 

 

It's that collapsed throat that's the problem, and Doctor Sabaoto says surgery on adults is not a great option, but strapping a mask on while you sleep is. Dr. Sabato says “CPAP is a good option to start with because the surgery is painful, expensive and it's not always effective.”

 

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. The little machine supplies a constant and steady air pressure to help you get a good nights sleep. Both doctors say it's something you can't let go due to the health risks.

 

Dr. Tang says "if you don't treat sleep apnea some people have depression. Untreated sleep apnea has the same risk as drunk driving."

 

Dr. Sabato says apnea is “rough on the lungs, rough on the heart, rough on the brain, and as soon as you get it treated you are going to feel better that morning.”

 

Alex says since he's been on his CPAP he is sleeping and feeling better. And even at 18, he knows one of little life's secrets that men putting off testing need to remember. Alex says "Happy wife happy life"

 

The doctors are spot on saying the husband does not want to admit they have a problem... and the wife has had enough.

 

I'm that husband who wakes my wife up in a panic when I stop breathing.

 

So I took an oximeter home for a few nights. It showed there is a drop in my oxygen levels and there is something going on.

 

So I have an appointment for a more in-depth test.

 

I'll keep you posted on FOX 28 Morning News.

 

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Posted on October 20, 2015