Most people know generally what sleep apnea is: when someone stops breathing while they sleep. But because most people only have a very basic understanding and because many cases of sleep apnea go undiagnosed, there's a lot of misinformation out there. Here's a look at some of the most common myths about sleep apnea and the real truth behind them.
Myth #1: Snoring is a sure sign of sleep apnea
Snoring certainly is a symptom of sleep apnea, but it's not an automatic indicator. People can snore and not have sleep apnea, and can have sleep apnea and not snore. There are several types of sleep apnea. The most common is OSA, or "obstructive sleep apnea," where a blockage is preventing normal breathing. While obstructive sleep apnea will likely cause snoring, the other two types, central and mixed, likely will not.
Myth #2: Sleep apnea is for the elderly
Since being over the age of 40 is one of the most common factors for sleep apnea, many people think of it as a disease for older people. But sleep apnea can affect people of all ages. It's possible for toddlers and children as 2 or 3 to develop sleep apnea. Children are especially susceptible to the obstructive type of sleep apnea since their tonsils are relatively large compared to their throats.
Myth #3: If you have sleep apnea, you'll be jolted awake when your breathing stops
Likely the most dangerous aspect of sleep apnea is the fact that the sufferer usually isn't jolted wide awake. They're sleeping when the symptoms occur, after all. This is why it's important for family of someone who has sleep apnea to try to pay attention while they sleep.
Myth #4: Medicines (or alcohol) to induce sleepiness will help someone with sleep apnea
If someone is suffering from sleep apnea, the issue is not that they're "not sleeping deeply enough." Attempting to cause drowsiness with medicines or with alcohol won't help things. Someone with sleep apnea needs the proper treatment, not a "quick fix."
Sleep apnea can be a dangerous disease, especially when left untreated. It's not just an issue of missing out on rest. It can cause not only high blood pressure and heart disease, but memory problems, weight gain, and headaches. The daytime variety of sleep apnea can be even more dangerous, as it can contribute to impairment while driving a vehicle. Fortunately, the symptoms can be greatly reduced through use of the proper equipment, such as a CPAP mask. For more information, contact Corner Medical or a similar organization.