In recent years the amount of information about sleep apnea that is available to the general public has increased significantly. Doctors, researchers, and sleep centers have made great strides in raising awareness about the symptoms and causes of this sleep disorder that, according to the National Sleep Foundation, 18 million Americans live with everyday. Despite all this, many people remain unaware of the real risks this disorder poses and misinformed about the condition as a whole. To help correct this problem, here are some of the most common myths about sleep apnea and the facts you need to know.
Myth 1: Everyone who snores has sleep apnea.
While it is true that snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, this doesn’t mean that everyone who snores has sleep apnea. It also doesn’t mean that you don’t have sleep apnea if you don’t snore. People with sleep apnea stop breathing while they are asleep, sometimes hundreds of times a night. This impacts their overall health by interrupting their sleep cycle and stealing their sleep and can also cause immediate life-threatening circumstances.
If you snore and/or experience other sleep apnea symptoms like daytime sleepiness, you should speak to your doctor about doing a sleep study. Getting a diagnosis and treatment plan can help mitigate the negative effects of the condition.
Myth 2: I am only 35; I am not old enough to have sleep apnea.
Many people believe that sleep apnea is an elderly sleep disorder. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sleep apnea can affect people of all ages including children. While it is more prevalent in the over-40 population, it is entirely possible to have sleep apnea at 35, 25, 15, and even 5.
There are some physical characteristics that do increase your likelihood of developing sleep apnea including being overweight, being male, being African-American, of being Latino.
Myth 3: The only treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine.
CPAP or continuous positive air pressure machines are the most effective way of treating sleep apnea in almost every patient with the disorder but they are not the only treatment. Surgery, which helps by removing the tissue causing the blockage, can be helpful for some people with the condition. Additionally, some people with sleep apnea get relief from symptoms by sleeping on their side or using a special pillow. Others who have mild sleep apnea can use a specially designed mouthpiece to manage their symptoms. For those with sleep apnea that are overweight, losing weight can also help alleviate or decrease symptoms.
Myth 4: Sleep apnea isn’t a dangerous sleep disorder.
Unfortunately for those with this condition, this is a myth. Sleep apnea takes a toll on those that suffer from it, robbing them of a good night’s sleep and the health benefits that provide, leaving them tired during the day. This daytime sleepiness can contribute to accidents at work or while driving a car. Additionally, research has shown that untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of several serious long-term health problems like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke.
- Phoenix Sleep Physicians: Does Sleep Apnea Cause Cancer? (valleysleepcenter.com)
- Sleep Doctor vs. My Regular Doctor: What’s the Difference? (valleysleepcenter.com)
- What Happens During a Sleep Study? (valleysleepcenter.com)