Donatucci resolution highlights sleep apnea symptoms, treatment

HARRISBURG, May 19 – A measure adopted by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and authored by state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, designates May 2016 as Sleep Apnea Awareness Month in the commonwealth.

“Having lost my husband to complications from sleep apnea, I know the devastating toll this condition can take on families,” Donatucci said. “I encourage anyone who suspects they or a loved one might be living with this disorder to discuss their symptoms with their doctor.”

Donatucci’s H.R. 884 noted sleep apnea is a common chronic disorder affecting more than 18 million adults, and up to three percent of children, in the United States. People who suffer from sleep apnea experience shallow breaths or pauses in breathing while sleeping, which can last from a few seconds to a few minutes.

Symptoms include loud snoring, obesity, persistent daytime sleepiness, awakening out of breath during the night and waking up in the morning with a dry mouth or headache. Experts say those who suffer from sleep apnea can help reduce the severity of the disorder by losing weight, avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking.

Sleep apnea treatments can include the use of a continuous positive airway pressure device, dental appliances, repositioning the lower jaw and tongue, and upper airway surgery to remove tissue in the airway. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression and other ailments, in addition to automobile accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel.

“People can sometimes be reluctant to get treatment for sleep apnea, but technology has come a long way,” Donatucci said. “Long ago people might have complained about wearing a CPAP to sleep, but the devices have become more comfortable over the years. Avoiding treatment is a risk that’s not worth taking, especially when it comes to this potentially dangerous disorder.”