In recent years, the general public has become more aware of sleep apnea's prevalence and symptoms. However, even though many people are more educated about the basics of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), many misconceptions are still common – even among those who have been diagnosed with OSA. In this week's post, we will take a closer look at five of the most common sleep apnea myths that we hear from patients each day.
"If you have sleep apnea, it is because you are unhealthy."
Although it is true that sleep apnea has been correlated with a number of serious health conditions
, including heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, diabetes, and hearing loss, it is important to understand that sleep apnea is not simply a sign that you are not in good health. Instead, many doctors believe that OSA is a serious, systematic disease that can affect much more than your good night's sleep. Research and studies have shown, for example, that sleep apnea and overall health is often a two-way street: sleep apnea can be made more severe by other health conditions and sleep apnea can make other health conditions more severe. In other words, sleep apnea can make
you less healthy.
"Everyone who snores has sleep apnea."
Snoring is one of the major symptoms of sleep apnea; however, not everyone who snores is afflicted with the chronic sleep disorder. Snoring can have a number of causes, some as simple as a stuffy nose or consuming alcohol before bed. If you or your partner does snore chronically, though, it is important to find out why. Participating in an overnight sleep study is the best way to find out if your snoring is caused by sleep apnea and to find out just how mild or severe your sleep apnea is.
"Sleep apnea doesn't need to be treated because it isn't dangerous or deadly."
Far too many people think that sleep apnea simply means that you snore at night. However, sleep apnea has a number of hidden dangers and long-term health effects. While some believe that sleep apnea simply makes you drowsy during the day, it also interrupts many of your body's basic functions, from your metabolism, to your hormone production, to your heartbeat. In fact, OSA patients have a three-fold higher chance of death over an 18-year period compared to those without OSA, according to a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin.
"Sleep apnea is caused by obesity – and you can cure it by losing weight."
Sleep apnea has been correlated with high body mass index (BMI), neck circumference, and abdominal fat. However, it is extremely important to understand that half
of all OSA sufferers are not overweight. It is also important to know that sleep apnea can affect your metabolism
and your ability to exercise, making it difficult to lose weight. Although it is true that many obese patients can improve their sleep apnea symptoms by losing weight, some people need to take more aggressive action in order to fully treat their disorder.
"The only cure for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy."
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices are among the most common treatments for those with moderate to severe sleep apnea. However, CPAP therapy is far from the only effective treatment for OSA and CPAP therapy may not be an ideal treatment for you. Although CPAP has a high rate of effectiveness when used correctly and consistently, many patients have trouble with long-term CPAP compliance. Those with mild sleep apnea may find more success with dental appliances and/or lifestyle changes, while those with moderate to severe sleep apnea may wish to consider surgery.
Sleep Apnea Surgery At The Surgical Arts Centre
We aren't just passionate about treating patients, we are also passionate about educating them. Call the Surgical Arts Centre today if you would like to find out more about your sleep apnea diagnosis as well as your best options for treatment: (406) 549-6600.