Tired? Learn About Sleep Disorders

March 29, 2016

Are you snoring? Is your spouse snoring? Do you wake up feeling tired and fatigued before your day starts?

Not getting enough sleep is a problem. It makes us cranky when we are tired all day, and we just don’t do our best.

However, there are more problems to losing sleep than just that.

Not getting enough sleep can put us in line for some very serious health problems, and snoring may be a sign of a serious health problem – obstructive sleep apnea.

To teach us more about sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, Dr. Angelo Illuzzi, who is board-certified in pulmonology, sleep medicine and internal medicine, is kicking off the annual educational programs of The Women’s Health Center of Penn Highlands Healthcare.

The first program of four being held this year is “Fighting Fatigue.” It will be held at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, April 7, in the Central Resource Center of Penn Highlands DuBois, 204 Hospital Ave., DuBois. Cost is $10 per person. A light meal will be served, and RSVPs should be made.

The next programs will be “Love Yourself – When Cancer Strikes” on Wednesday, June 1; “Conquer Cholesterol” on Tuesday, Sept. 20; “Overcome Diabetes” on Wednesday, Oct. 26, and Tuesday, Nov. 1. Cost to attend is $10 to cover the meal served. The “Love Yourself” program will not have a meal and is free to attend.

Why talk about sleep apnea? “Daytime fatigue and sleeping difficulties are challenges of many people,” Lori Rancik, RN and case manager of The Women’s Health Center of Penn Highlands Healthcare, said. “Often times stress and lifestyle are blamed when in fact, the underlying problem could be related to an increasingly more common problem known as sleep apnea.”

“In previous years, there was a stereotyped patient who presented with multiple risks for sleep apnea,” Rancik said. “However, recent research has discovered that sleep apnea can be a problem for all ages, both men and women.”

Sleep apnea translated from Greek literally means "without breath." There are three types of apnea, but the most common one is obstructive apnea. Left untreated, it causes people to stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer.

Not breathing regularly often leads to health problems. Sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, headaches, heart disease, poor diabetes control, stroke and possibly cancer. Untreated, it is the cause of accidents, motor vehicle crashes and problems at work.

But how do you know what is going on when you are sleeping? How do you know if you have sleep apnea?

A simple test used universally to judge if you need an in-home sleep study is this:
• Do you snore loudly?
• Do you often feel tired, fatigued or sleepy during the daytime?
• Has anyone observed you stop breathing during your sleep?
• Do you have or are you being treated for high blood pressure?
• Are you obese/ very overweight – is your body mass index more than 35?
• Are you age over 50 years old?
• Is your neck circumference greater than16 inches?
• Are you male?

If you or a loved one can answer yes to none, one or two, you are at low risk. Three or four yes answers mean there is an intermediate risk. Five or more yes answers mean a high risk for sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea, according to Barbara Himes, registered polysomnographer at the Sleep Disorders Lab of Penn Highlands DuBois, is when the airway relaxes or is blocked during sleep by the soft tissue or tongue. The blockage may cause shallow breathing or breathing pauses.

A representative of The Sleep Disorders Lab will show the in-home sleep study kit.

“Because the symptoms of sleep apnea occur during sleep, the patient may not even be aware he or she is snoring or gasping,” Rancik said. “Therefore, family member play a vital role in diagnosis as well as treatment options when prescribed. Fight Fatigue will provide a message to both the patient and his or her family to learn more about the risks, signs and symptoms, testing and treatment for sleep apnea.”

To add fun and relaxation to the evening, Allison Williams-Ball, a yoga instructor and certified nurse practitioner with Penn Highlands Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, will give a short presentation on relaxation and how yoga can help. “Relaxation methods, including conscious breathing exercises, can be very helpful in aiding sleep for those who suffer from insomnia,” Ball said.

To register for this or any other the other programs, RSVP by sending a check for $10 payable to The Women’s Health Center of Penn Highlands Healthcare to The Women’s Health Center , c/o Lori Rancik, 100 Hospital Ave., DuBois, PA 15801. For more information about the series, call 814-371-9666.