Sleep Disorders

By: Nichole Vrsansky
By: Nichole Vrsansky

We all know what it feels like when we don't get enough sleep, but imagine feeling like that on a consistent basis…70 million Americans do; they suffer from a variety of sleep disorders, like sleep apnea. It’s a condition that landed one local man in bed... A hospital bed - that is...

45 minutes a day for 45 days - that was Russell Hornbeck's sleep schedule. It’s a schedule that landed him in intensive care:

"My blood chemistry was off - my body started producing more blood than it should have been and doctors had to take blood out of me - I spent 3-4 days in the intensive care unit," says Hornbeck.

Hornbeck suffers from sleep apnea - a condition that affects about 18 million people in the U.S. Patients experience breathing problems as they doze off, causing them to wake up frequently.

"When they fall asleep their upper airway collapses - there's no air movement - so air doesn't get into their lungs," says Dr. Vivek Thappa of SwedishAmerican’s Sleep Center.

"You'd either snore and the snoring would wake me up or I'd start gasping for air - so it wasn't any fun," adds Hornbeck.

But a machine, called c-pap, or continuous positive airway pressure, is helping sleep apnea patients breathe normally and more importantly get their z's...

"The machine's a little hard to get used to but once you've gone to sleep and used it, you're so grateful to have the thing because you're getting a full night's sleep now," says Hornbeck.

Once diagnosed with sleep apnea, medical insurance will usually cover these devices. They cost around 1-thousand dollars. Patients will have to use them likely for the rest of their lives.

But without them serious problems can develop. Dr. Thappa says sleep apnea can lead to the development of high blood pressure, heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, and extreme fatigue - not to mention the work and driving hazards not getting enough shut eye creates.

Bottom line if you think you have a problem - go get tested - it's not going to hurt. The Sleep Center over at Swedes is more than willing to help you out.


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