Suspect whether you have a sleep apnea syndrome

The suspicion is very easy. Usually is the bedfellow or the bedroom companion the one who raises the alarm when he or she begins to hear snores that sometimes are so intense that even force him/her to leave the room. The companion also notes that the affected person does not breathe in a normal or regular way during sleep, and that occasionally he or she "seems to stop breathing." This thing creates such a worry to the bedfellow that on numerous occasions he/she decides to  wake up the patient. In fact this is what is called  sleep apnea, which can lead to long-term consequences of extreme gravity. People affected by sleep apnea syndrome can show up to 400-800 respiratory pauses per night. If this repeats night after night, which is usually the norm, month to month and year after year the cardiovascular system can suffer potential severe consequences. Generally people affected with sleep apnea tend to be obese, although there are also lean cases.
These patients, due to their poor night's sleep, have a great facility to fall asleep during the day, and can do so at any time provided they are relaxed. It is very easy for them to fall asleep after meals, in the bathroom, in meetings or watching TV. There are people who have fallen asleep while eating, falling his/her head in the bowl of soup, or while smoking, suffering different kind of burnings. This is probably not very important but if we consider that someone with high social an political responsibilities is affected with this disorder and can not be fully awake while attending a high-level meeting the decisions can not be properly taken and they can be erroneous with important social, economic or political consequences, simply for not being fully alert. We must not be surprised when they say that in order to stay awake and as much alert as possible they often tweak the legs, go to wash the face, take as much coffee as they can, etc.
One of the most relaxing and boring activities that need full attention is car driving. Many of these people can easily fall asleep at the wheel and have serious accidents with fatal consequences not only for them but also for the rest of the passenges and other people. We can say that if they are not diagnosed and properly treated they constitute a public danger. What should we think when we read or hear news of these tragic road accidents in which many people have lost their lives?. Until proven otherwise it is likely that the driver has fallen asleep at the wheel, as a result of a sleep disorder, probably a sleep apnea syndrome. There is no doubt that there are accidents due to high speed, mechanical failures, the bad state of the road, distraction, alcohol use, etc. But given the frequency of this disease we should think that there are numerous accidents caused by falling asleep. The problem is that when the driver has died there is no prove that he/she fell asleep and when the driver survives it is likely that he/she does not recognize the problem for fear of being fired, shame or because there is not fully awarenress of the problem. It is likely that the driver tells us that he/she does not know what happened. We must be aware that some of these people may be professional drivers, aircraft, helicopters or boats pilots, etc. It is a problem more serious than what it seems at first sight which will bring forensic consequences probably in the short term needing the intervention of health and traffic authorities in order to decide and take action. Theoretically these people should be advised not to drive or use dangerous machinery until the problem is solved which can normally be done in a relative easy way after a proper evaluation and study, including full sleep studies, by expert sleep physicians.

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