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Recognizing the signs of sleep apnea | Healthwatch 16

One in three Americans has sleep apnea. Treating the condition not only eases annoyances but can prevent major health issues.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Sleep apnea is a condition where there is abnormal breathing during sleep. It can be caused by abnormal bone structure and obesity, and it's more common in men.

"Because sleep is something that's progressive, there's progressive narrowing during sleep, collapse, low oxygen levels during sleep, broken up sleep with multiple awakenings, and fragmentation of sleep during the night," explained Dr. Sreelatha Naik, director of sleep medicine at Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre.

Dr. Naik says sleep apnea can lead to more than tiredness during the day. It can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke.

The gold standard of care is the CPAP machine, a mask worn over the nose or mouth during sleep.

"It's connected to a machine that blows air into the windpipe to keep it open."

There are newer treatments like dental devices or surgery.

"Which is an implantable pacemaker device that's used to treat sleep apnea. Rather than being hooked to the machine itself, they have an implantable device in their upper chest," Dr. Naik said.

When it comes to diagnosing sleep apnea, Geisinger has a sleep lab. But this can also be done at home with a device you wear on your wrist.

"It interfaces with smartphones. You wear it one night, and in addition to your breathing, it looks at your heart and also sleep patterns."

If you think you may have sleep apnea, it's important to discuss your options with your doctor.

Do you have sleep apnea? Check the signs here.

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