More Veterans Suffering from Sleep Apnea
The Veterans Administration announced that from 2008 to 2010, the number of veterans who receive benefits for sleep apnea increased by 60%, and that more than 20% of military veterans suffer from the sleeping disorder, compared to the estimate of 5% for those not in the military.
Although one of the main causes can be excess weight, the VA doctors suspect that repeat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are exposing the military service members to dust and smoke which are contributing to the increase in cases.
More than 63,000 veterans receive benefits for sleep apnea, which can cause daytime drowsiness, heart disease, and even strokes. The most common treatment is the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask. Although the Social Security Administration recognizes sleep apnea as a disability and pays benefits to those who can’t work, the VA says veterans can receive benefits and hold jobs.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is expected to spend approximately $500 million a year to treat veterans with sleep apnea, and it is expected to rise in the upcoming years. Considering that sleep apnea is linked to serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and daytime sleepiness, which can cause memory loss and decrease work productivity, it is critical that these veterans receive appropriate care.
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