Truth or myth, let us debunk 5 sleep apnea myths based on interesting facts.
First of all is it true that sleep apnea is caused primarily by obesity? There is a common misconception that being overweight or obese raises the risk of developing sleep apnea due to the increased amount of fatty tissue in the throat. On top of that weight is a factor in developing sleep apnea as the fatty tissue at the back of the throat collapse and block the airway when the muscles relax during sleep. There might be some truth to it but not absolutely true as an athlete who has large muscular neck muscles might have the same problem or even a thin person is susceptible to sleep apnea due to a narrowed airway or structural abnormalities of the jaw, tonsils, adenoids, septum, tongue and soft palate. Nonetheless, being overweight has an increased risk of developing sleep apnea and other serious health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other comorbidities.
Secondly, does snoring mean that one has sleep apnea? There is a link between sleep apnea and snoring as a form of symptom but it is not a form of diagnosis. 1 in 3 men and roughly 1 in 5 women who are habitual snorers do suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which shows that not all snorers have sleep apnea. More importantly, snoring has been linked to other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart failure, and hypertension. If you snore or suspect that you snore, consider it a sign of something might not be right, consider taking an online sleep apnea quiz on the National Sleep Foundation or consult a sleep specialist for a sleep apnea test near you.
Thirdly, multiple studies have shown that getting quality sleep is important for overall health and well-being but is it true that the more you sleep the better it is? There are several studies show that oversleeping or sleeping too much can have a negative impact on your health as shown in a 2014 Nurses’ Health study, those who slept five hours or fewer per night or nine hours or more had worse performance on memory and thinking skills tests, and are mentally two years as compared to those getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Therefore, oversleeping might be as detrimental as undersleeping, and more sleep is not always the best solution to poor sleep arising from conditions such as OSA.
Fourth, do children experience sleep apnea, and is that rare? Based on studies, 33% of obese children suffer from OSA compared to 2 to 4% of non-obese children, and 50% of obese children who snore will have OSA that might be due to the smaller upper airway and prone to collapse, or the fat in the belly pushing up the lungs and making them smaller. In addition, a 2010 study shows that 16.9% of children aged 2-19 were obese, and 9.5% of infants and toddlers were obese which meant that the main type of child-aged OSA sufferers is more obese children with adult-like OSA symptoms rather than a thin child with big tonsils. Essentially, children do experience sleep apnea and most of them diagnosed with OSA has large tonsils that can be treated with tonsil and adenoid removal.
Last but not least, does wearing a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask makes you unattractive? In a 2013 study from the University of Michigan where 20 adults suffering from OSA were selected to answer this question to debunk the myth and help encourage OSA sufferers to use CPAP therapy. Photos of the participants were taken before and after undergoing CPAP therapy and were reviewed by the participants themselves as well as medical professionals to observe and compare the photos to find that 68% looked more alert, 67% looked more attractive, and 64% look more youthful than before the treatment. The therapy also helps decrease forehead surface volume and redness under the eyes and on the cheeks. Moreover, with the current technology companies have designed CPAP masks to be smaller, quieter, and more comfortable.
If you suspect that you might be at risk or have sleep apnea, it is important to consult a doctor to confirm the diagnosis early and the underlying issue of the cause of sleep apnea. Depending on your financial situation and sleep apnea condition, the doctor will work through with you the type of sleep apnea test in the comfort of your home or an in-lab sleep test to determine the precise nature of your condition to avoid any long-term issues. Besides most insurance companies now pay for sleep testing and CPAP treatment, early intervention with a sleep apnea device can stop snoring or one can a sleep apnea CPAP trial from the equipment supplier or distributor that distributes a range of sleep apnea machine for a better quality of sleep and healthier overall well-being.
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