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Sleep apnea is often overlooked

Doctors need to ask patients about their sleeping habits.

February 28, 2011|By Amanda Leigh Mascarelli, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Many people with sleep apnea are not aware that they have it. Because the disorder is so prevalent, sleep experts say that doctors should routinely ask patients about the quality of their sleep.

If you suspect that you or someone you know might have sleep apnea, it is important to seek medical advice. Symptoms include loud snoring, gasping and pauses in breathing while you sleep; high blood pressure; daytime sleepiness; and cognitive impairment.

Diagnosis usually requires an overnight sleep evaluation. Experts recommend that if your child snores, is very sleepy during the day and has behavioral symptoms such as hyperactivity, irritability or concentration problems, discuss it with a pediatrician.

"Getting a good night's sleep is not just about feeling good," says Dr. Lawrence Epstein, chief medical officer at Sleep HealthCenters, a network of clinics based in Brighton, Mass. "It's good for overall health."

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