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Sleep Apnea in Baby Boomers: Dangers of Undiagnosed

I am sharing a personal story that should make folks out there pay attention to the issue of sleep apnea in baby boomers.  I had snored for years, and it kept getting worse.  As far as I was concerned, snoring was an irritation, but nothing I needed to be concerned about.  Doctors I had seen over the years never brought up that I might have sleep disorder issues.   At the same time, however, I was always tired, had trouble concentrating, experienced short term memory lapses,  and then started having issues with balance.  On the recommendation of my primary doctor, I went to a neurologist.   It turns out I had undiagnosed Sleep Apnea for over 20 years!    Apparently,  I am not alone in this diagnosis.  Over 30 million people in America suffer from Sleep Apnea.  Even worse is the fact that over 85% of moderate to severe sleep apnea cases remain undiagnosed.  And for you Baby Boomers, sleep disorders occur 2-3 times more often in older adults.  This is a very bad thing, and I will tell you a few reasons why:

Effects of Sleep Apnea in Baby Boomers

  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Higher rate of death due to heart disease
  • Impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance
  • Impaired concentration and short term memory loss
  • Increased risk of brain seizures
  • Chronic mood changes and depression
  • Sleep Apnea  patients have 10x risk for a single car accident

The fact that my Sleep Apnea remained undiagnosed for so long left me with some real issues.  My short term memory lapses and trouble concentrating may never go away.  The worst part is that I now have brain seizures that can be directly connected to the lack of oxygen I was getting for so many years.  This is not minor stuff, folks.  If you snore, you need to visit a doctor and get evaluated.  If you are lucky, there will be a simple treatment for you.  Unfortunately, if you ignore the situation, the long term effects are dramatic and will definitely damage your quality of life.  Check out the risk groups below and see if you fit any of them.  If you do, you need to meet with your doctor.  I made a note next to the Risk Groups that I fell into:

Risk Groups

  • People who are overweight (Body Mass Index of 25 to 29.9) and obese (Body Mass Index of 30 and above)
  • Men and women with large neck sizes: 17 inches or more for men, 16 inches or more for women
  • Middle-aged and older men, and post-menopausal women
  • Ethnic minorities
  • People with enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Those with a naturally narrow throat  - (THIS WAS ME)
  • Male –3x risk as females if Body Mass Index >30
  • Those with family history of sleep disorders
  • People who regularly use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers
  • Those with nasal obstructions such as deviated septum – (THIS WAS ME)

I will not bore you with more facts.  However, please click on the Sleep Apnea Infographic image below to view full size and learn more.

Chief Boomer Sue

Sleep Apnea Infographic Image

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