Death Due to Obstructive Sleep Apnea
CPAP treatment for sleep apnea is highly effective
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy uses a machine that restores an sleep apnea sufferer's air flow by injecting positive air pressure into the patient's throat through a mask, forcing the blocked passages to open. When a CPAP machine is used consistently, it is highly effective in eliminating most of the adverse effects of sleep apnea.
According to Reggie's wife Sara, he was unable to use a CPAP machine because his claustrophobia did not allow him to sleep with the CPAP mask on his face.
Thats not unusual. In one study, 45 percent of those for whom CPAP therapy was prescribed discontinued the treatment because of the discomfort they experienced.
There are treatment alternatives for those who cant use CPAP
But now there are a number of alternatives that provide relief at a level similar to that provided by use of a CPAP machine. They range from upper airway surgery to an implanted device that provides electrical stimulation of the upper airway. Even dentists can now prescribe oral appliances to relieve sleep apnea for those who cannot use CPAP.
Sara, who became the cofounder of the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Foundation, says she is convinced that had Reggie known about these oral appliances for sleep apnea, he might still be alive today.
Snoring loud at night and drowsy during the day? Get tested for sleep apnea!
There are millions of us who share the condition Reggie had. But we don't have to share his fate. Not if we heed the warning thats implicit in the words of Keith Johnson, head of Christian Athletes United for Spiritual Empowerment, a ministry that Reggie helped found.
"A 43-year-old is not supposed to die in his sleep," said Johnson. "It was not only unexpected, but it was also a complete surprise. Reggie wasn't a sick man ... he was vibrant. He had lots and lots of energy, lots of passion."
The lesson of Reggie White's tragic death is that sleep apnea, when it goes untreated, can lead directly to very dangerous, potentially lethal health consequences, even in people who are otherwise in apparently excellent health.
If you have the characteristic symptoms of OSA, loud snoring and awakening multiple times during the night, along with sleepiness during the day, please go immediately to your doctor and get tested for sleep apnea! It just might save your life.