Americans have always suffered from sleep apnea (think Grandpa snoring down the hall so loudly it sounds like you're right next to him) but recently those numbers have been increasing.
Part of the epidemic is caused by obesity: people get so heavy and out of shape that they actually have difficulty keeping their throats open with the weight of their own neck fat when at rest. Another part of the problem is in veteran populations.
It's believed that veterans are seeing spikes in apnea due to the air they are breathing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dust and sand particles that are common in the air there are foreign to Americans, and have adverse reactions in the lungs. Scientists are also currently researching possible connections between PTSD and sleep apnea, though no concrete evidence of a link has been reported to date.
Some doctors argue that the rise in numbers is logical, as baby boomers are now aging.
Either way, if you think you may have apnea, seek council from your physician.
Think you may have apnea? Here are some symptoms to look for:
Do you wake up choking or gasping for air during sleep? This often happens after one stops breathing while asleep.
Do you snore so loudly that your partner complains? Do you ever wake yourself up with the noise? Some snoring is normal. Snoring alone does not mean that you have sleep apnea.
Do you wake suddenly, startled or sweating?
Are you tired during the day? Sleep apnea causes interruptions in your sleep cycle, leading to poor sleep and daytime sleepiness.
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