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What to do if you have sleep apnea?
Chronic snoring and sleep apnea are widespread in Germany, so-called telemedicine could remedy this. This could reduce the consequences of disturbed sleep, which can range from an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes to reduced life expectancy.
An article published by the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM) on the results of an online press conference on June 19 deals with the treatment of chronic snoring and sleep apnea. It explains that telemedicine can make a meaningful contribution to the treatment of the above-mentioned complaints.
Often extreme volume when snoring
With chronic snoring, volumes of up to 90 decibels can be achieved. This is comparable to a truck driving through your bedroom, the researchers describe. A noise level of 90 decibels would even exceed the values of noise protection regulations at the workplace.
How common is chronic snoring in Germany?
About 44 percent of men and 28 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 60 are classified as chronically snoring. With so-called pathological snoring, breathing interruptions occur several times during sleep, which trigger a wake-up reaction, which is referred to as sleep apnea.
What are the consequences of sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea leads to limited activations of the stress nervous system and to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate due to breathing disorders. This then puts a strain on the cardiovascular system. The increased stress on the cardiovascular system increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
For example, high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias can develop and there is an increased risk that affected people will suffer a heart attack or stroke. Even life expectancy can be reduced in severe cases.
Stages of sleep are disrupted
The breathing wake-up reactions also destroy the sleep architecture. The researchers report that stages of sleep, deep sleep and dream sleep that are necessary for physical and mental recovery are no longer sufficiently lived through. As a result, tiredness, lethargy, sleep in seconds, lack of drive, difficulty concentrating and memory, and depression can occur. In addition, the risk of accidents on the road or at work increases.
Accident risk increased tenfold?
Various studies have already shown that the risk of accidents with untreated sleep apnea increases up to ten times compared to people without sleep disorders. People affected by sleep disorders often also suffer from loss of libido and erectile dysfunction (erectile dysfunction). Other studies have found that up to 30 percent of Germans in Germany suffer from sleep apnea requiring treatment. The estimated number of unreported cases is also very high. Many people affected by sleep apnea are not even aware of the problem.
How can mild and moderate sleep apnea be fought?
In the case of mild and moderate sleep apnea, reducing the weight and consuming alcohol can help. According to the results of studies, so-called mandibular splints also seem to have a positive influence. Sometimes surgical therapy methods can also help those affected.
How are severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea treated?
Obstructive sleep apnea is usually treated with overpressure therapy. Such treatment quickly leads to success and is safe even in severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea. After a short implementation, treated people can experience a significant improvement in their well-being and performance. In the long term, the risk of cardiovascular diseases can be reduced if the therapy is used sufficiently.
Integrated telemedicine module could improve overpressure therapy
Around one million people with sleep apnea in Germany are currently using this therapy. Using an integrated telemedicine module, modern overpressure therapy devices can transmit important data to the people concerned and the attending doctors on a daily basis. Thereby problems with the therapy can be recognized and solved early. This enables affected people to get used to their therapy better, the researchers explain.
Data protection guidelines are observed
Of course, when using such modules, strict compliance with European data protection guidelines is ensured. Especially in times of COVID-19, so-called telemedical approaches are extremely useful. People affected by sleep apnea are increasingly asking for telemedical care during the coronavirus pandemic, reports the research team.
Health insurance companies should cover costs
The sleep medicine practices and clinic outpatients are of particular importance for the implementation of these new technologies. In order to be able to use and expand the existing telemedical possibilities, it is urgently necessary for health insurance companies to cover the costs of these measures. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Romy Held: widespread disease of snoring and sleep apnea, telemedicine offers opportunities for short-term treatment success, German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (published June 19, 2020), DGSM