Sleep Apnea (cont.)

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Why is it important to treat obstructive sleep apnea?

When a person with obstructive sleep apnea considers all the options for treatment, he or she may be tempted to not choose any of them. The masks and dental appliances have to be worn every night and the surgeries are painful and have no guarantee that they will be successful. When considering the consequences of all the treatments, however, it is important to remember that there are consequences of not receiving treatment.

It is estimated that only 10% of patients with obstructive sleep apnea are being treated. Some of the remaining 90% know that they have a problem, but they choose not to pursue treatment. People with obstructive sleep apnea may have a right to accept the risks to their health that refusing treatment poses; however, when they drive they put everyone else at risk as well. People who refuse treatment for their obstructive sleep apnea should be reported to the DMV, which often will suspend their driver's licenses. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea also increases the risk of:

  • heart attacks,
  • strokes,
  • high blood pressure,
  • decreased productivity at work,
  • decreased attentiveness at home, and
  • sudden death.

If one thinks that they or someone they know may have obstructive sleep apnea, they should discuss their symptoms with the doctor as soon as possible.

Previous contributing author: Andrew Verneuil, MD

REFERENCE:

Downey III, Ralph, et al., "Obstructive Sleep Apnea." Medscape. 18 Sept. 2012.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/25/2012

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