Myths and Facts About Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Sleep Apnea is just snoring.
Myth. Snoring can be a symptom of a sleep disorder, but there is a big difference between snoring and sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea actually STOP BREATHING up to 400 times throughout the night. These pauses last 10 to 30 seconds and followed by a snort when breathing resumes. This makes it impossible to get into REM sleep and leaves you tired during the day.
2. Sleep Apnea is no big deal
Myth. All those interruptions in your sleep cycle take a toll on your body and your mind. Untreated it has been linked to job-related injuries, auto accidents, heart attacks, and strokes.
3. Blocks your breathing
Fact. The most common type of Sleep Apnea is OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) This happens when your tongue, tonsils or other soft tissue in the back of your throat to block the airway. The air can’t get in when you breathe due to this blockage. Central Sleep Apnea is less common, but it still Sleep Apnea. This type of Apnea is caused by the brain not telling the body to breathe when it should.
4. Only older people get OSA or CSA
Myth. Doctors estimate that more than 18 million people suffer from Sleep Apnea. Seems to be more common after 40 years old but can affect people of all ages including infants and children. Being male, overweight, African-American or Latinos make it more likely to get Sleep Apnea. This disorder is also hereditary.
5. Will alcohol help you sleep? NO
Myth. A nightcap may make you tired, but it will not help you get the quality sleep you need as it will relax the muscles in the back of your throat making it easier to block the airway. Sleeping pills have the same effect.
6. Is Apnea rare in kids?
Myth. OSA is common in children. It can affect 1 in 10 children. In most cases the symptoms are mild and the children eventually outgrow it. Some may have behavior troubles or serious medical problems because of it.
7. Losing weight can help
Fact. Losing weight, even a small amount will help reduce your sleep apnea symptoms. If you are carrying extra pounds talk to your doctor about starting a weight loss program. It also helps if you quit smoking.
8. Lying on your side can help
Fact. If you sleep on your back, gravity will pull the tissue in your throat down where it is more likely to block your airway. Sleep on your side instead. There are certain pillows that can help you do this. You could even sew a tennis ball onto the back of a shirt making it difficult to roll onto your back.
Sleeping on your side is not just for Sleep Apnea. Many other benefits of sleeping on your side, left side in this case.
9. A mouthpiece might work too
Fact. A dentist or orthodontist can fit you with an oral appliance to ease MILD sleep apnea. These devices are custom-made. It adjusts the position of your lower jaw and tongue. You put it in at bedtime to help keep your airway open.
10. CPAP is an effective treatment
Fact. CPAP stands for Continous Positive Airway Pressure. A CPAP machine blows a steady stream of air into your airway. The flow can be adjusted to keep the airway open while you sleep. It is the most common treatment for adults with severe OSA.
11. Is surgery the best way to fix Apnea?
Myth. For some, an operation may cure OSA. A good example is a child with large tonsils which block his or her airway. Some adults can improve their symptoms using surgery to shrink or stiffen floppy tissues. Surgery is not a good choice for everyone. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of this procedure.
Here is a link to a page about how Sleep Apnea is treated https://cpapforbabyboomers.com/how-is-sleep-apnea-treated