Bill Hyland, MS, OT, Responds:
Based on your description of the symptoms, its sounds very likely that you wife has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With OSA, intermittent lapses in breathing (apnea) can occur during sleeping and result in excessive daytime fatigue.
If you were to listen to her when she sleeps, you might notice periods of heavy breath sounds, snoring, and absent breath sounds for short periods of time, followed by gasping for breath.
This abnormal breathing sequence can cause oxygen levels in the blood to become dangerously low and leaves the person feeling tired all the time.
OSA is generally classified as a breathing and/or sleep disorder. This is a real medical problem affecting many people, especially those who may be overweight or who have current history of smoking.
If left untreated, OSA can lead to other problems such as high blood pressure (HTN) and increase your risk for other conditions, including stroke and heart attack.
It is important to get a sleep study done to identify exactly what the problem is and seek the appropriate treatment.
Current treatments include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and oxygen therapy. This consists of a small oxygen mask which helps to maintain positive airway pressure and reduces snoring and apnea.
Other treatments include weight loss, sleeping partially upright (as opposed to flat), and smoking cessation.
Any medical treatment and equipment should be covered by your medical insurance. You can call your primary doctor and get the name of someone who specializes in this field or search for a Pulmonologist in our physician directory.
Click here for information about sleep studies at a Catholic Health facility.
With the proper treatment, your wife should have less snoring at night and more energy in the day.
— Bill Hyland, MS, OT
Bill is an Occupational Therapist at Partners In Rehab Sisters Hospital, which provides Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy in Buffalo, NY.
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