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How Does Your Untreated Sleep Apnea Affect the Quality of Your Life?



In an article reported in Medscape entitled “Sleep Disorders: Impact on Daytime Functioning and Quality of Life” Dr. Szentkiralyi, Dr. Madarasz, and Dr. Novak define health-related quality of life as, “a concept that reflects the changes in diverse aspects of subjective wellbeing of the patient due to illness.”


The authors of the Medscape article sought to measure the perceived ramifications of coping with untreated sleep apnea. To gather their information, they used “the most widely used tool to measure health-related quality of life”—the 36-item Short Form Health Survey.


The survey covers the following categories:

  • Limitations on physical activities, such as walking, bathing and strenuous sports.
  • Problems with work or other daily activities as a result of physical health.
  • Intensity of bodily pain or limitations because of pain.
  • Perception of current health and health outlook.
  • Level of energy.
  • Extent health interferes with normal social activities.
  • Problems with daily activities as a result of emotional issues.
  • Mental health screening.


The severity of obstructive sleep apnea is determined by something called the apnea hypopnea index (AHI), which is the total number of apneas ( complete cessation of airflow) and hypopneas (partial reduction in airflow) per hour of sleep.


In order to have been included in the study, participants had to fit into these three criteria:


  1. Admit to excessive daytime sleepiness that is not better explained by other factors.


  1. Have two or more of the following that are not better explained by other factors:
  • Choking or gasping during sleep
  • Recurrent awakenings from sleep
  • Un-refreshing sleep
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Impaired concentration


3.  And lastly, an overnight sleep study that shows five or more monitored obstructed breathing events per hour during sleep.

The participants in the survey listed excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) as one of the physical symptoms of having untreated sleep apnea along with:

  • Morning headaches
  • Dry mouth and/or throat
  • Fatigue
  • Erectile dysfunction for males

I treated a man who was never a morning person, who said, “waking up at 8 o’clock in the morning ready to go just didn’t happen for me and now, it does.” Before he had to take one or two naps during the day and now he sails through the day without them and now reports he is, “ready for a good nights rest.”

I invite you to take a moment and think about the physical symptoms you have that are affecting your well being, the quality of your life and your happiness.

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