Sleep apnea is a disorder in which the airway becomes obstructed while the individual is asleep. This condition can produce mild symptoms, such as loud snoring, but is a cause for more concern when it results in breathing difficulties. Very often, the individual will stop and start breathing several times throughout the night. Additionally, a decrease in oxygen intake and a spike in carbon dioxide forces the person to jerk awake violently.
Sleep Apnea is Increasingly More Common
While this particular sleep disorder once only affected a small segment of the population, recent studies have found that there has been a surge in the number of incidences. Research looked at the number of sleep apnea devices sold in the United States and found that 2017 sales rose as high as $6.9 billion. Future projections have sales going as high as $10 billion by the year 2020.
In addition to an increased number of sleep apnea sufferers, that increase is partially due to changing technologies that will make treatment more effective. Now that we recognize high blood pressure and other factors that contribute to the condition, we’re better able to predict who will develop the sleep disorder.
Positive Airway Pressure Makes Strides in Sleep Apnea Treatment
The most effective treatment for sleep apnea is positive airway pressure or CPAP devices, and researchers are continuing to improve upon the design. When they first hit the market, they were bulky and problematic, so patients were reluctant to use them. They complained that the CPAP devices interfered with their ability to sleep.
Advances in technology have allowed CPAP devices to evolve significantly since then. Today, they’re lightweight, convenient, and comfortable to wear. This has made them more agreeable, resulting in an upswing in purchases that may have influenced the study.
The diagnosis of sleep apnea has gone through similar changes. The use of a single-channel screening device now allows individuals to submit to a far less invasive test. By checking the oxygen saturation levels in the blood, the test can quickly determine if an individual is likely to suffer from sleep apnea.
There’s a definite indication that more people are suffering from sleep apnea, just as more people are seeking treatment for the condition. In the past, people may have been content to bear the disease without treatment. Today, however, treatment is so much more efficient and less invasive, encouraging patients to consider the regular use of treatment devices.