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Sleep Apnea Diagnosis Increasing

Sleep Disorders, Sleep Apnea

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - If you snore or feel tired during the day it could be from a more serious sleep disorder called sleep apnea.

The disorder affects 10 percent of the population and local doctors are seeing an increase in patients with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea happens when breathing is disrupted during sleep. Men, overweight people, and people over 40 are at the greatest risk for sleep apnea, but it can happen at any age.

"It was almost discovered by accident," said Janet Felin. She is 78 years old and was diagnosed with sleep apnea while she was in the hospital battling another illness in 2012. Her snoring caught the attention of doctors.

"You were snoring like crazy. Well of course that's one of the real indications of sleep apnea but no one caught it because I have so may other health issues," said Felin.

But Dr. Allen Salem did catch it. At his clinic in Idaho Falls. Dr. Salem said he's diagnosing more people with the sleep disorder.

"There's been a steady increase," said Salem.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include; feeling sleepy during the day, drowsiness, trouble concentrating, waking up and not feeling refreshed and sometimes snoring.

Sleep apnea can be managed with a C-PAP machine.

"It has a very sophisticated processor in it that pushes a column of air or pressure of air through your interface to keep your airway open," said Salem.

The new machines are high-tech, barely make any sound and even have an SD card so doctors can collect sleep data, but patients do hesitate to wear masks to bed.

"They say 'oh my God' I can't wear this," said Salem.

Dr. Salem says the benefits far outweigh the fear of wearing masks to sleep.

"Sleep is crucial. you have to get rejuvenated, you have to get enough sleep and a good quality of sleep. There's just no way around it. Just like our mom's told us," said Salem.

Sleep apnea has also been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, arrhythmia and even heart failure.

Doctors test for sleep apnea first with a simple questionnaire and sleep studies for a more detailed look your breathing and brain activity while sleeping.

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