Your dog is probably your best friend. The chances are that he sleeps in your bed, hangs out with you on the couch, goes with you on some of your weekend outings, and is always excited to see you or happy to lend an ear when you’re feeling down. Some dogs do even more than that, though. Dogs are trained to help people who are vision-impaired, those with diabetes, people who have mobility issues, and much more. What you might not realize is that a dog can even be trained to sniff out sleep apnea problems.
A Dog’s Intuition Can Save Your Life
According to an article in the National Library of Medicine that was published in March 2019, dogs can detect obstructive sleep apnea to help determine whether a person needs a CPAP full face mask. The publishers assessed whether a dog could be trained to detect sleep apnea based on olfactory urine detection. Samples were collected from 23 adult male sleep apnea patients and 20 volunteers who did not have sleep apnea. Three dogs underwent reinforced operant conditioning. Two of the dogs correctly detected two-thirds of the sleep apnea patients. The conclusion was that dogs could be trained to distinguish sleep apnea patients and that they may be able to identify biomarkers and screen for the disorder.
Man’s Best Friend and Sleep
People who have sleep apnea and require a mask such as the ResMed AirFit P10 may benefit from having a service dog in several ways. Perhaps the most important way a service dog can help someone who has sleep apnea is by being trained to alert him or her if they are experiencing significant time not breathing during the night or having many sleep disturbances during the night.
A service dog can help a sleep apnea patient in other ways as well. Often, people who have sleep apnea feel exhausted, rundown, or as if they are operating on an auto-pilot setting, which can make it more difficult to remain productive and even ensure safety during the day. A service dog can help someone to remain focused throughout the day, ensure he or she doesn’t trip or otherwise experience minor dangers, and even help to carry or retrieve things on particularly exhaustive days.
Finally, many service dogs are emotional therapy. A lack of sleep leads many people to become depressed or anxious, either simply because they are tired or because they worry about their performance in work or school. An emotional support dog can help the person to feel more at ease and more ready to take on the day.
Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that causes oxygen not to reach the brain. Over time, untreated sleep apnea can lead to more significant health issues, including stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, and more. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, it is important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. He or she can help to diagnose you, teach you about treatment methods such as the AirFit P10 mask, and determine whether you may qualify for a service dog.