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Sleep Apnea Disability Insurance Benefit Claim

Although sleep apnea can cause serious issues in the workplace, many disability insurance companies still look for reasons to delay or deny legitimate disability claims. Having proper documentation of your sleep apnea as well as appropriate care and treatment can help make sure that your disability benefits are approved in a quick and timely manner.

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly, and you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.

The main types of sleep apnea are:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax. Obstructive sleep apnea is considered a serious medical condition. Complications may include:
    • Cardiovascular problems. Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during obstructive sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system.

      Many people with obstructive sleep apnea develop high blood pressure (hypertension), which can increase the risk of heart disease.

      The more severe the obstructive sleep apnea, the greater the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure and stroke. In a study, men with obstructive sleep apnea appeared to be at risk of heart failure, but women with obstructive sleep apnea didn’t appear to have a higher risk of heart failure.

      People with obstructive sleep apnea are much more likely to develop abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).

      If there’s underlying heart disease, these repeated multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) could lead to sudden death from a cardiac event.

    • Daytime fatigue. The repeated awakenings associated with obstructive sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible. People with obstructive sleep apnea often experience severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability. They may have difficulty concentrating and find themselves falling asleep at work, while watching TV or even when driving.

      Children and young people with obstructive sleep apnea may do poorly in school and commonly have attention or behavior problems.

      Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea can improve these symptoms, restoring alertness and improving quality of life.

    • Complications with medications and surgery. Obstructive sleep apnea also is a concern with certain medications and general anesthesia. These medications, such as sedatives, narcotic analgesics and general anesthesia, relax your upper airway and may worsen your obstructive sleep apnea.

      If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you may experience worse breathing problems after major surgery, especially after being sedated and lying on your back.

      People with obstructive sleep apnea may be more prone to complications after surgery.

      Before you have surgery, tell your doctor if you have obstructive sleep apnea or symptoms related to obstructive sleep apnea. If you have obstructive sleep apnea symptoms, your doctor may test you for obstructive sleep apnea prior to surgery.

    • Eye problems. Some research has found a connection between obstructive sleep apnea and certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma. Eye complications can usually be treated.
    • Sleep-deprived partners. Loud snoring can keep those around you from getting good rest and eventually disrupt your relationships. It’s not uncommon for a partner to choose to sleep in another room. Many bed partners of people who snore are sleep deprived as well.

    People with obstructive sleep apnea may also complain of memory problems, morning headaches, m
    ood swings or feelings of depression, and a need to urinate frequently at night (nocturia).

  • Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Central sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. Some complications include:
    • Fatigue. The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible. People with central sleep apnea often experience severe fatigue, daytime drowsiness and irritability.

      You may have difficulty concentrating and find yourself falling asleep at work, while watching television or even when driving.

    • Cardiovascular problems. In addition, sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during central sleep apnea may adversely affect heart health.

      If there’s underlying heart disease, these repeated multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) worsen prognosis and increase the risk of abnormal heart rhythms.

  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making the type of sleep apnea more difficult to determine. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:

  • Loud snoring, which is usually more prominent in obstructive sleep apnea
  • Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep witnessed by another person
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath, which more likely indicates central sleep apnea
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Attention problems
  • Irritability
  • Your doctor may make an evaluation based on your signs and symptoms or may refer you to a sleep disorder center. There, a sleep specialist can help you decide on your need for further evaluation.

    Such an evaluation often involves overnight monitoring of your breathing and other body functions during sleep. Home sleep testing may also be an option. Tests to detect sleep apnea may include:

    • Nocturnal polysomnography. During this test, you’re hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep.
    • Home sleep tests. In some cases, your doctor may provide you with simplified tests to be used at home to diagnose sleep apnea. These tests usually involve measuring your heart rate, blood oxygen level, airflow and breathing patterns. If you have sleep apnea, the test results will show drops in your oxygen level during apneas and subsequent rises with awakenings.

      If the results are abnormal, your doctor may be able to prescribe a therapy without further testing. Portable monitoring devices don’t detect all cases of sleep apnea, so your doctor may still recommend polysomnography even if your initial results are normal.

If you have sleep apnea and you are considering filing a claim for disability benefits, or have already been denied disability benefits by your insurance company, our firm can help. Sign up below for a free consultation or call our offices toll-free at 1-855-828-4100.

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