Medical Tuesday Blog

Sleep Apnea and Hypersomnolence

Aug 4

Written by: Del Meyer
08/04/2020 1:01 AM 

Hypersomnolence and Sleep apnea are very relevant and important to treat. Also See Section 13.

A Personal Experience

I can relate to sleep disorders inasmuch as I frequently had difficulty staying awake in Medical School lectures. It was a common problem and was attributed to long study sessions and sleep deprivation.  Sleep medicine was not a subject in the Medical Curriculum in 1962 when I completed medical school. After medical school, it wasn’t a problem as my medical residency and fellowships had little classroom activity.

I didn’t appreciate the problem during my first 30 or more years in practice. It really WOKED me when a patient said, “Dr. Meyer, you’re going to sleep on me.” On my next Medical Society meeting, I saw the neurologist who was the head of the sleep department in one of the hospitals and asked her if I could make an appointment to evaluate my sleepiness problem. The results were confirmatory for Hypersomnolence and Obstructive Sleep Apnea and I was prescribed a C-PAP apparatus. My wife appreciated the fact that it also prevented my loud snoring during the night.

I had noticed drowsiness when I was reading, or driving and other sedentary activities. My problem, in retrospect, actually was present back in the 1950s when I was still on the farm. One day as I was taking a wagon behind my Ford tractor, I dozed off and went into the ditch. The tractor did not capsize but the load of corn did. I never dawned on me that I had a medical problem but my father knew. He always tied a rope to the hand clutch on our MM tractor when we harvested and he was able to stop the tractor while he rode the equipment I was pulling.

At least I was not run over by the machine I was pulling like a member of our community whose wife   looked out her kitchen window and saw the tractor her husband was driving going aimlessly around the field with her husband under the plow. This made me realize that my father’s precaution, was a very fatherly watch over his son.

Although the C-PAP treated my nocturnal APNEA, my daytime hypersomnolence required additional treatment which I continue to take. The anti-somnolence medication not only prevented my dozing during the day, but is also improved my sleeping at night.

Sleep medicine became part of my specialty, pulmonary medicine, which along with neurology, was doing most of the sleep studies in our hospitals.

Sleep study

Depending upon your other medical problems and other sleep symptoms, you may need to stay overnight at a sleep center to undergo an in-depth analysis of your breathing during sleep by a study, called a polysomnography. In a polysomnography, you’re connected to many sensors and observed overnight.

Snoring and apnea

Not everyone who snores has apnea, but it is a key symptom. The difference is that, with obstructive sleep apnea, the snoring is accompanied by pauses where you literally stop breathing because your airway collapses or is blocked.

Using a CPAP machine can often prevent these problems because it usually works to stop snoring. Researchers also claim that snoring can result in social and psychological damage to those suffering from it. … Because many sleep apnea patients snoreCPAP therapy can also usually solve the snoring problem.

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