Sleep apnea is a disorder that interrupts your breathing while you sleep. It’s relatively common, as over 100 million people around the world suffer from the condition. Unfortunately, there are several widespread myths about sleep apnea that can mislead patients and put their health at risk.
For your convenience, our experienced sleep dentist has debunked 5 of the most common myths about sleep apnea below so you can ensure you get proper treatment. Explore our helpful guide to learn more from Dr. Lauck.
1. Sleep apnea is just snoring/no big deal
Of all the myths about sleep apnea, this is probably the most dangerous one. Not only is sleep apnea a serious medical condition, but it can lead to severe health consequences and even potentially be fatal without treatment. While loud and consistent snoring is often the most obvious indication of sleep apnea, it’s far from the only symptom.
In fact, sleep apnea can affect your mental and physical health in a wide variety of ways, including:
- Fatigue/lack of energy in the daytime
- Irritability/mood swings
- Trouble concentrating/short attention span
- Decreased libido
These are just some of the many ways that sleep apnea can affect you on a daily basis. To make matters worse, the condition can eventually lead to heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, and other severe medical issues if it isn’t addressed soon enough.
2. Only older people are at risk for sleep apnea
While it’s true that your risk of developing sleep apnea increases as you get older, there’s no minimum age for the disorder. Many young people suffer from sleep apnea and even children can be at risk. In fact, as many as 1 in 10 children are affected by obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Thankfully, symptoms are often milder with younger patients, but it’s still essential to get an accurate diagnosis and address any symptoms that may arise.
3. Alcohol will help you sleep
For many years, adults of all ages have relied on drinking alcohol to help them fall asleep. While alcohol is a depressant that may help you feel relaxed, drinking too close to bedtime will actually have a negative impact on your sleep. In many cases, drinking alcohol at night can contribute to snoring and sleep apnea, since it relaxes the muscles in the back of your throat.
This can lead to a blockage in your airway, interrupting your flow of oxygen and causing you to wake up repeatedly throughout the night. If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea, one of the best ways to reduce your symptoms is to limit your intake of alcohol, especially late at night.
4. Sleep apnea only affects men
Unquestionably, men are at higher risk for sleep apnea than women and there are far more male sleep apnea patients than female ones. However, that doesn’t mean women can’t develop the disorder and have nothing to worry about. In fact, women are often underdiagnosed because they’re more reluctant to discuss snoring with their doctor.
Just as with men, women who are overweight or more than 40 years old carry the highest risk for sleep apnea. Women who have gone through menopause may also have an increased risk of developing the disorder.
5. Surgery and CPAP are the only ways to treat sleep apnea
In many cases, a CPAP machine is the first treatment recommended for sleep apnea. While they’re effective, many patients stop using their CPAP due to the uncomfortable mask and loud noise of the machine. CPAP machines are also difficult to travel with and force you to sleep on your back. This causes some patients to give up on their sleep apnea treatment entirely, under the misconception that invasive surgery is the only other option.
If you’re tired of your CPAP, Dr. Lauck can provide a customized oral appliance just for you. Oral appliance therapy is a more convenient and less-invasive alternative to CPAP for relieving your sleep apnea symptoms. The device expands your jaw to keep your airway open, allowing you to breathe without interruption and enjoy the quality rest you need.
Our oral appliances are small, comfortable, and easily portable for maximum convenience. You also won’t have to deal with any disruptive noises and can sleep in any position you like. If you’re interested in the benefits of oral appliance therapy, call our Keller, TX office and schedule a consultation with Dr. Lauck today. We look forward to helping you reclaim your restless nights so you can wake up feeling refreshed.