Obstructive sleep apnea, abbreviated as OSA, is among the most common sleep disorders. It is also one of the most dangerous. Without proper treatment, it has the potential to lead to heart problems, motor vehicle accidents, and other life-threatening circumstances. To protect yourself, you should be well-informed about this serious condition. Here are some surprising facts about OSA that can motivate you to take action to safeguard your health:
Sleep Apnea Is Horribly Underdiagnosed
An often-quoted estimate states that 18 – 22 million adults in the U.S. suffer from sleep apnea. In reality, the numbers may be much higher. Some experts believe that around 90% of OSA cases remain undiagnosed because people are not aware of its signs or believe their sleep problems are not serious enough to seek professional care.
Sleep Apnea Is Not Limited to Obese Individuals
You might have heard that OSA only affects obese people. While it is true that a higher BMI comes with an increased risk of disordered breathing, anyone can develop OSA. Even some very thin and athletic people have this condition.
Sleep Apnea Can Cause Hundreds of Sleep Disruptions Each Night
A mild case of sleep apnea might cause dozens of pauses in breathing in a single night. Severe cases, though, can cause hundreds of breathing disruptions. These episodes interrupt the sleep cycle and prevent OSA victims from getting an adequate amount of restorative sleep. That is why they are often exhausted despite spending 7 – 8 hours in bed.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea Are Related
Snoring is sometimes dismissed as nothing more than an annoyance. However, it is important to be aware that in some cases, it is a sign of sleep apnea. The tissues that vibrate and cause snoring are the same ones that can block the airway during sleep. (Of course, snoring does not always mean that a person has sleep apnea, and not everyone with OSA snores.)
The Risk Increases with Age
Sleep apnea can afflict anyone, even children. However, it most often occurs in older individuals. Aged men are at a higher risk than women, but both genders have an increased OSA risk as they get up in years.
CPAP Therapy Is Not Always Necessary
It is commonly believed that anyone who has OSA needs a CPAP machine. Yes, CPAP therapy is an effective way to keep the airway open and allow OSA sufferers to enjoy improved sleep. However, a CPAP machine can be inconvenient and uncomfortable. Many patients have found that a custom oral appliance from a dentist is an effective alternative.
Has this article taught you anything new about OSA? Share what you learned so you and your circle of loved ones can protect yourselves against this dangerous health condition.
Meet the Practice
Dr. Mitch Conditt began his career as a general dentist, but in recent years, his focus has shifted to helping people conquer sleep apnea via oral appliance therapy. If you suspect that you have OSA, or you are tired of your CPAP, he and our team would be pleased to consult with you. Contact our Fort Worth office at 817-527-8500.