Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that affects about 22 million Americans. However, almost 80% of those people are undiagnosed. That’s primarily because there are several misconceptions about the disorder, which can prevent people from getting a diagnosis and seeking the treatment they need. So, let’s set the record straight once and for all! Read along as we debunk six common sleep apnea myths.
Sleep Apnea Is Just Snoring
Although snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have it. Snoring is caused by the vibrations of soft throat tissues and the airway, indicating air is having difficulty moving in and out of the lungs. With that said, it’s entirely possible to be a snorer and not have sleep apnea. That’s why it’s crucial to look for other warning signs of the disorder, such as:
- Daytime drowsiness
- Waking frequently throughout the night
- Falling asleep when tired or bored
It Only Affects Men
It’s true that more men are diagnosed with sleep apnea than women. However, that doesn’t mean females are immune to the disorder. Studies show that most women are affected by sleep apnea after menopause, with about 6% of them having the condition. It’s worth noting that women may not have the same symptoms as others do, meaning it’s harder for them to realize they need to get their sleep checked. Since snoring is less common in women, the disorder is more likely to go undiagnosed.
Alcohol Helps You Sleep
Some people like to have a drink before bed because it helps them fall asleep. At least, that’s what they think it helps them do. Studies show that alcohol is actually detrimental to sleep. Although it acts as a depressant and can make you drowsy, it can also inhibit REM sleep, the most essential stage of sleep. It even relaxes the muscles in the back of your throat, making it easier for the airway to become blocked and leading to more apneic events.
It Can Go Away on Its Own
Because it can be difficult to adapt to therapy, some people give up and abandon the process. They may not take sleep apnea seriously and believe they can live without treatment – but that’s far from true. It’s a dangerous sleep disorder that will not resolve on its own. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to several medical complications like high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, stroke, and increased risk of cancer.
Only Older People Get Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is certainly more common after age 40, but it can affect people of all ages. There are many factors that can increase your risk of the disorder. For example, if you’re overweight, a man, African American, or Latino, you’re more likely to suffer from this condition.
Now that we’ve put some sleep apnea myths to rest, you can be more vigilant about your health. If you think you may have sleep apnea, ask your doctor about a sleep study – don’t wait until it’s too late!
About the Author
Dr. Peter F. Johnson is passionate about helping his patients achieve and maintain optimal oral health. He earned his Doctor of Medical Dentistry degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Johnson is a Board-Certified Prosthodontist and specialist in Sleep Apnea/ Snoring Appliances. If you think you may have sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to reach out to him – he’s had great success treating patients with this condition! Visit our website or call (619) 463-3737 to schedule an appointment.