Many can suffer from sleep apnea without knowing it. Lia knows who is suffering from the disease and fell asleep behind the wheel. However, she had angel guard.
It took several years before Lia, got help for her sleep apnea. The fatigue she had known for some time ended up in the cloud for more important things; like taking care of her husband, who got cancer in 2001 and then fell asleep the following year.
– At first I thought that fatigue had to do with menopause and later it was a few heavy years when my husband got sick and then passed away. It’s easier to blame than one and the other.
When fatigue nevertheless persisted, Lia switched to less stressful work and also went down during working hours, but this also had no effect. Blood pressure continued to be high.
– Because I was a widow and living alone, I couldn’t tell that I was snoring, so I finally asked my doctor if apnea could possibly be the problem. After some hesitation, I was referred for investigation.
After the sleep investigation, it was clear that Lia had severe sleep apnea with around 33 breaths per hour. In anticipation of hiring a CPAP, which minimizes apnea, Lia continued her life as usual.
Fall asleep at the wheel
Lia was on her way to her country place in California and had recently taken a break when, at 100 kilometers per hour, she suddenly drove straight into the middle distance.
– I rolled around with the car which after that went to scrap. I remember hoping that the car would end up upright so I could get out. When I called 911, I saw an ambulance and thought – they were really fast. I realized I had had angel guard!
The ambulance had just left by someone at the hospital when the driver saw the scene of the accident, and could therefore quickly help Lia to the hospital.
– I stayed in the hospital overnight and got a very professional response from everyone. The shock probably made me realize after a few days that I survived a car accident with only seven stitches in my forearm.
Lia couldn’t answer how this could happen, but the likely thing was that she had fallen asleep at the wheel. After this incident, Lia told about the accident to the doctors she had previously met. For her, it felt important to bring out information about sleep apnea and the risks it can actually pose.
– I do not want anyone else to have to suffer an accident due to sleep apnea and may not be as lucky as I am.
Today, Lia uses CPAP, because her health demands it. It has not been easy to get used to the apparatus at night, but there is no choice, she says.
– I want to live and feel good and then you do what you have to!
- Ask your partner to check if you are snoring and have a breathing break.
- Ask to do a sleep investigation if you suspect sleep apnea.
5 tips: Improve your sleep apnea/reduce snoring
- Lose weight. Losing weight if you are overweight is perhaps the most important step to reducing sleep apnea problems, but also to prevent them from occurring in the long term.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol causes the muscles of the throat to relax, making the throat narrower than normal. The alcohol can therefore both cause and aggravate problems with snoring.
- Stop smoking. Smokers often become narrower in the nose and throat as a result of swollen mucous membranes and increased mucus formation.
- Learn to sleep on the side. Both snoring and breathing stops are often aggravated when sleeping on your back.
- Keep the airways open. Breathing through the nose while sleeping is better than breathing through the mouth. In some stores and pharmacies, you can buy a soft plastic rail that helps to facilitate the passage of air through the nostrils. Snark patch is another variant that also aims to keep the nostrils open. To avoid breathing through the mouth, you can also try attaching a small piece of skin-friendly tape vertically over the lips (apply the lips beforehand to facilitate removal of the tape).
Sleep apnea and folk disease
Around half a million Swedes are estimated to suffer from sleep apnea, that is, involuntary respiration during sleep. However, there is likely to be a large dark figure over how many people can be affected without knowing it. Sleep apnea can lead to a number of serious sequelae such as hypertension, vascular disease, stroke, diabetes and depression. A sleep apnea is at risk as much as a steering wheel in traffic. Studies show that a person with sleep apnea is seven times more likely to have a car accident.
Facts sleep apnea
Sleep apnea = involuntary breathing pauses during sleep, often associated with severe snoring. These are because the respiratory tract has been temporarily blocked. CPAP treatment is the most effective treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. The CPAP equipment presses air through a mask and thus opens the respiratory tract.
- To easily fall asleep as soon as you are not active.
- Prolonged “abnormal” fatigue.
- Regular awakening, frequent toilet visits, nightmares and night sweats.
- Headaches, concentration difficulties and irritation.