Time to rethink sleep apnea

LETTER — Posted Aug. 9, 2004

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Regarding "Dream on" (Article, May 3): I have spoken with scores of patients and many colleagues who have been evaluated and treated for sleep apnea. Surely, sleep is a problem and snoring in particular is audible. But the trail might stop there.

Who knows a patient who continues to use CPAP for more than a few days after it has been tried? The device is interesting, but hardly conducive to restful sleep, unless you are a jet pilot.

A patient I spoke with recently was status post-two reconstructive throat surgeries for sleep apnea (he had never been overweight). When I spoke with him he was still having problems with sleep. Of course, he was still concerned about sleep apnea. He related that three years earlier while in the sleep lab, the technician was so alarmed he told him he had almost awakened him three times for fear he would die in his sleep!

Yet three years and two surgeries later, and quite alive, the patient was still looking for solutions to his daytime sleepiness. This anecdote is only one of scores of similar ones.

Perhaps some of us ought to rethink this condition a bit.

James Spinelli, MD, Columbia, S.C.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/08/09/edlt0809.htm.

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