Avera Medical Minute: Alleviating Sleep Apnea - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute: Alleviating Sleep Apnea

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Respiratory Therapist Erica Weide checks Dick Barrett's CPAP mask. Respiratory Therapist Erica Weide checks Dick Barrett's CPAP mask.

If someone in your house has obstructive sleep apnea, there's a good chance no one is really getting a good night's sleep. Even though a lot of people may not even know they have quit breathing during the night there are some tell tale signs you or your significant other should notice. 

Dick Barrett has been a life long snorer who rarely slept through the night that was until he was diagnosed last year with sleep apnea. Now when he goes to bed he wears a full face mask hooked up to a C-PAP machine.

Erica Weide is one of the Respiratory Therapists at the Avera Living Well Center in Sioux Falls. She says, "When a patient is on a C-PAP machine (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) it is forcing air down into the patient's airway to hold it open at night. When you fall asleep the muscles in the airway tend to get lazy so this pressure holds it open allowing them to breath better at night and distribute that oxygen they need throughout the body."

Dick started using his C-PAP in August of 2008. He says, "I seem to sleep better now. I know I dream more now because I'm in a deeper sleep and I don't take naps the next day. It's been really helpful."

 Once your physician diagnoses you with possible sleep apnea you will come to the Avera McKennan Sleep Diagnostic Center for a sleep study. They have different rooms set it up to model a motel room so if you have trouble sleeping in a motel you may have trouble sleeping here although most people with apnea are so exhausted they do fall asleep. You'll be hooked up with 23 different wires and sensors and someone will be watching and diagnosing you all night.

Darla Klinger is the Lead Diagnostic Technician at the Avera McKennan Sleep Lab. She says, "You'll probably have snoring although not everyone who has sleep apnea snores and not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but usually it's a sign. Some other symptoms include frequent awakening in the night, restlessness, sleepy during the day and morning headaches (because your brain isn't getting enough oxygen throughout the night)."

After Dick's sleep study they discovered he stopped breathing briefly about 40 times in an hour. Over the course of a night that adds up to 320 times. Since he starting using his mask he says it's been solid zzzzzzz's.  

Dick says, "You look like someone from outer space when you go to bed and it's hard to kiss your wife good night, but it's helped me. I have energy now when I wake up and everyone here at  Avera has been so helpful. Boy if something needs to fixed or tweaked or looked at, they are on it."

Dick's sleeping well and for the first time in 20 years, so is his wife Kathy.

You have to be diagnosed by your doctor to have a sleep study done and most insurance will cover that and the treatment.


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