Since 2009, the number of veterans’ claims for sleep apnea has increased by over 150%, USA Today reports.
The surge in reports of sleep apnea can be attributed to growing awareness of the condition, according to officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs. This disorder is becoming increasingly recognized as a serious health concern, which is permitting veterans to apply for and receive appropriate treatment.
1 in 5 veterans has obstructive sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is the recurring interruption of breathing during sleep, which can lead to reduced sleep quality, short-term memory loss, and irritability and is related to serious health concerns such as diabetes and heart disease.
Sleep apnea is especially common among veterans, whose exposure to materials such as dust and fumes, as well as mental anxiety related to combat, make them more likely to develop chronic health conditions. According to the VA, 1 in 5 veterans has obstructive sleep apnea. Iraq veterans who reported mental conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were almost 45% more likely than non-combatants to develop sleep apnea.
Within the VA, veterans with sleep apnea are some of the first to receive treatment. Patients with apnea are considered 50% disabled, which puts them in Priority Group 1 for treatment. (By comparison, an amputee with a prosthetic limb is considered 40% disabled.) Sleep apnea is rated so seriously because reduced sleep quality affects virtually all aspects of a veteran’s waking hours, including concentration, mood, and overall job performance.
Veterans with the condition are entitled to disability compensation of over $800 per month, provided that the condition was documented while they were still serving. The VA spends upwards of $500,000 a year to treat these men and women. Use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine can alleviate nearly all symptoms of the condition.
Potential revisions to the VA’s disability rating system, which could occur within the next two years, could eventually change the way that veterans with sleep apnea are dealt with within the VA.
We perform sleep studies for veterans through the VA in Southern California.
Other posts you may find interesting:
- Veterans with PTSD are at Higher Risk for Sleep Disorders
- New Study Sees Link Between Sleep Duration and Diabetes in Men
- How Does Alcohol Affect Sleep?
- Snoring vs. Sleep Apnea: Which is it?
- Home Sleep Testing vs. an In-Center Study: which is best for you?
Photo Credit: Fort Rucker https://www.flickr.com/photos/fortrucker/