5 Myths about Sleep Apnea

OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea, is a common condition that afflicts millions of unsuspecting Americans. Yet, there are numerous myths in circulation that often downplay the severity of this diagnosis.

It is scary to think that 80% of those with moderate to severe sleep apnea go completely undiagnosed and therefore, untreated. Maybe it is general apathy for what seems like a non-critical health issue or possibly the average person doesn’t want to submit to a sleep test for what seems like a common case of snoring. Whatever the reason, concerns about OSA are often pushed to the backburner. To shine a light on this potentially dangerous condition, we’ll debunk a few of the top myths surrounding a sleep disorder that is becoming all too common.

Myth #1: It’s Just Snoring

True; loud, persistent snoring is one of the telltale signs of sleep apnea, but there is a big difference between snoring and sleep apnea. Occasional snoring isn’t necessarily cause for immediate concern, but it is one of the first signs of OSA. If it becomes persistent, is frequently quite loud, or causes you to stop breathing for a few seconds (you’ll hear this from your partner or post sleep study), it most likely is sleep apnea.

Myth #2: It Doesn’t Pose a Threat

Sleep apnea isn’t just bad for your heart, your respiratory system, and your partner’s sleep patterns, sleep apnea sufferers tend to experience extreme fatigue, and that has been shown to increase the risk of car crashes, industrial accidents and other possibly fatal incidents. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine conducted a study that found people with sleep apnea were almost 2.5 more times likely to be the driver in a motor vehicle accident. The study also concluded car accidents were reduced by approximately 70 percent when sleep apnea sufferers used CPAP therapy for at least 4 hours per night. There are several direct and indirect health concerns that pose a danger to you and those around you.

Myth #3: Sleep Apnea Primarily Affects Older People

While it is true sleep apnea does seem to impact a fair percentage of people ages 60 and older, the disorder can affect anyone, even children. It’s most prevalent in males ages 41-60, but there are preventative ways to help alleviate the likelihood of sleep apnea from becoming a problem. This includes maintaining a healthy weight and refraining from smoking and drinking alcohol. If you already suffer from the condition, CPAP therapy is the most common form of treatment that has been proven to work for many.

Myth #4: You Must Be Diagnosed in a Sleep Lab

One of the biggest roadblocks individuals refer to when considering treatment for sleep apnea is finding the time for a sleep study. It used to be the only way to undergo a sleep study was to schedule an appointment at a clinic or lab to be monitored while sleeping. However, in-home sleep tests are now available and they’ve proven to be quite reliable and accurate. It records your respiratory activities while you sleep, all in the comfort of your own bed and at your own convenience. Users typically have the test for one to two nights to collect enough data to send back for a sleep specialist to review.

Myth #5: Surgery Is the Only Real Solution

You rarely are required to have surgery if you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but it can be an option in some severe cases. Instead, the most popular and effective treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy – and today’s reliable, efficient and affordable CPAP units make it easy to manage sleep apnea from the comfort of your own home and wherever you go.

CPAP devices are often covered by insurance, and are even portable to accommodate the needs of today’s busy traveler. By squashing these myths about sleep apnea, the hope is that more and more individuals will seek help for their sleep disorder. It is a serious health condition, but one that is generally treatable and manageable with the right medical support and early intervention. Ready to sign up for your free, online sleep screening?