Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Facts and Myths
SLEEP APNEA IS JUST SNORING
MYTH! Although snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, there’s a big difference between the two. People with sleep apnea actually stop breathing up to 400 times throughout the night. These interruptions last 10 to 30 seconds and are often followed by a snort when breathing resumes. This breaks your sleep cycle and can leave you tired during the day.
SLEEP APNEA IS NOT DANGEROUS
MYTH! All those interruptions in sleep take a toll on the body and mind. Untreated sleep apnea has been linked to job-related injuries, car accidents, heart attacks, and strokes.
SLEEP APNEA BLOCKS YOUR BREATHING
FACT! The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. It happens when your tongue, tonsils, or other tissues in the back of the throat block the airway. When you try to breathe in, the air can’t get through. Central sleep apnea is less common than OSA. Central sleep apnea means the brain doesn’t always signal the body to breathe when it should.
ONLY THE OLD GET APNEA
MYTH! Doctors estimate that more than 12 million Americans have OSA. Although it’s more common after age 40, the disorder can affect people of all ages. You’re more likely to develop OSA if you are overweight, male, African-American, or Latino. The condition also tends to run in families.
A MOUTHPIECE WORKS FOR SOME
FACT! A dentist or orthodontist can specially make a mouthpiece or oral appliance to ease mild sleep apnea. The mouthpiece is custom made for the individual and adjusts the position of the lower jaw and tongue. You put it in at bedtime to help keep your airway open while you sleep.
Dr. Sevey is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Ask him about dental solutions to Obstructive Sleep Apnea.