Seeing Life With Eyes Wide Open Again

Organization: Service: Story Topics:
Sleep Disorders

Like many moms of two small kids, Courtney Pixton felt exhausted. She was told that her fatigue may be caused by her daily responsibilities or even her type-2 diabetes. But she knew it was more than that. After months of struggling to get through routine activities, Courtney went to her primary care physician (PCP). Her PCP suggested that Courtney's symptoms may be due to a sleep disorder, and referred her to Stephen E. Brown, MD, medical director of the MemorialCare Sleep Disorders Center at Long Beach Memorial where a sleep study was ordered. She was soon diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.

"Without adequate sleep, the body cannot function as it should and quality of life becomes compromised," says Dr. Brown. "Obstructive sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing hundreds of times during their sleep due to closure of their airway. Partial closure of the airway, called hypopnea, may occur, along with loud, disruptive snoring."

The MemorialCare Sleep Center at Long Beach Memorial is the only sleep center in the greater Long Beach area accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). All AASM accredited facilities are held to the highest standards in the industry. Patients receive the most comprehensive sleep monitoring/testing available. Once testing is complete, patients work with trained physicians and staff to determine the best treatment and medical equipment for their condition.

"Obstructive sleep apnea can easily be diagnosed using a test known as a polysomnogram, which involves spending the night at the MemorialCare Sleep Disorders Center," says Dr. Brown. "Patients sleep in their own private bedroom, which looks and feels like a hotel bedroom."

Because the airway of those with sleep apnea is narrowed or closed, oxygen cannot get into the lungs and carbon dioxide cannot get out. This combination puts a great strain on the cardiovascular system.

"Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that afflicts more than 12 million people in the United States, and many others are not aware that they may have this condition" Dr. Brown explains. "Those with sleep apnea left untreated are at a higher risk for developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, stroke, headaches and weight gain."

Before the sleep study at the MemorialCare Sleep Disorder Center, Courtney attempted to manage her type-2 diabetes for years but didn't see positive outcomes until her sleep apnea was under control. Now she feels better and has seen her sugar levels improve. Patients who have sleep apnea, often feel more rested and are more compelled to make better lifestyle decisions, like cooking healthy and being active, after receiving care for their sleep apnea. As a result, the overall health and well being of patients like Courtney are much improved.

To help Courtney manage her sleep apnea, she uses a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. A CPAP machine increases air pressure in her throat so the airway does not collapse when she breathes in, and is known to be the most effective nonsurgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.

"I feel much better now, which helps me stay active, eat healthier, spend quality time with my kids and enjoy life." Courtney said. "I think controlling my sleep apnea has helped manage my diabetes. I just didn't have the energy to make the best lifestyle decisions before, but I do now."

If you are having trouble sleeping at night or feel tired most of the day, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder.