Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts while the patient is asleep. Snoring is one of the symptoms among patients with sleep apnea. Many people snore but do not have sleep apnea. Some people have sleep apnea but do not have the symptom of snoring during their sleep at night. Studies show that 1 in 5 adults in the United States suffer from some forms of sleep disorder. Are overweight, middle-aged males more likely to have sleep apnea? Is sleep apnea more common with the elderly? Many people are misinformed about what sleep apnea is all about. Here are some common myths about sleep apnea:
Myth #1: If you snore, you have sleep apnea
Fact: Snoring is one of the symptoms among patients with sleep apnea. But snoring does not mean a person suffers from sleep apnea. Snoring occurs when something blocks air from flowing freely through the nose and mouth. When breathing occurs, the walls of the throat vibrate and cause the snoring sound. These are some of the causes of snoring:
• Swollen tonsils and adenoids that block the airways
• Being overweight, the fatty issue in the neck puts pressure on the airways
• Growths in the nasal passages (nasal polys)
• Nasal congestion, stuffy nose from a cold or allergies
• Alcohol consumption before bedtime reduces the resting tone of the muscles in the back of the throat.
It is important to check with the physician to have a proper diagnosis of the cause of the snoring and to rule out sleep apnea.
Myth #2: I don’t snore, why do I have sleep apnea?
Fact: Many people with sleep apnea do not snore, but exhibit other symptoms. These are some of the symptoms:
• Often wake up with a headache, a sore throat, or a dry mouth
• Experience daytime sleepiness
• High blood pressure
• Gain weight, overweight
• Experience irritability, mood swings, or depression
Myth #3: Sleep apnea is most common in the elderly
Fact: People of all ages, young or old, can suffer from sleep apnea.
• Age has nothing to do with the sleep disorder
• Children and young adults are just as likely to suffer from sleep apnea
-small children have enlarged tonsil tissues are at risk for sleep apnea
-children who are overweight are at risk for sleep apnea
-untreated sleep apnea may lead to mood problems, hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and poor school performances, angry and hostile behaviors
Myth #4: Sleep apnea only happens to overweight, middle-aged men
Fact: Both men and women can suffer from sleep apnea
• Sleep apnea is not exclusive to overweight, middle-aged men
• Men are twice more likely to have sleep apnea than women, but men are diagnosed with the condition almost 8 times more often than women
• Men and women sleep apnea symptoms are different
-men: over 40, overweight, snore loudly, larger neck circumference
-women: snoring is usually much lighter, menopausal changes and ambiguous symptoms
Myth #5: CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is the only option for treating sleep apnea
Fact: CPAP is the most widely used treatment for moderate and severe sleep apnea, but it is NOT the only option for treating sleep apnea. There are other options. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has approved oral appliance therapy (OAT) as a first line treatment for patients diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea
• CPAP- a small machine that supplies a constant and steady air pressure, a hose, and a mask or nose piece
• OAT-fits like an athletic mouth guard, quiet, portable , comfortable and easy to wear
• Surgery-increase size of the airway and reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea
Sleep Apnea is a serious medical problem for men and women of any age. Dr. Anna Lee is a Glendora dentist trained to assess patients with sleep apnea. If you have any questions about the myths of sleep apnea, contact Dr. Anna Lee for a FREE sleep apnea consultation. For more information, please visit our sleep website at www.glendorasleep.com or call office at 626-335-5114.