3 Things You Didn’t Know About Sleep Apnea

sleeping man with sleep apnea

An estimated 18 million Americans experience periodic pauses in breathing throughout the night – a serious condition known as sleep apnea. Research shows that the number of people with sleep apnea has grown considerably over the past two decades, due in large part to the ongoing prevalence of obesity in the United States.

The longer obstructive sleep apnea goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more serious the consequences can become. Restless sleep can lead to concentration and memory difficulties and a slew of health problems ranging from cardiovascular disease to impotence.  Despite ample research on sleep apnea and its causes and effects, a good deal of misinformation persists about this common breathing disorder.

Here are three interesting facts you may not know about sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea runs in the family

When we think of genetic traits being passed on from parent to child, things like facial features and hair color come to mind. But studies indicate that sleep apnea can also be hereditary. According to Dr. Shalini Paruthi, a director of the Pediatric Sleep at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, babies can inherit features such as large tonsils, recessed chins and overbites that can put them at higher risk for obstructive sleep apnea. The American Sleep Apnea Association reports that children as young as 2 years old can develop sleep apnea, which can affect up to 4 percent of U.S. children.

Many people have it, but don’t know it

We often think of sleep apnea as a man’s disease, since it is usually associated with heavy, chronic and extremely loud snoring. In reality, sleep apnea can affect both genders, and may go undetected in women who only suffer from occasional bouts of light snoring. You don’t have to wake up choking or gasping for air to have sleep apnea. Even irregular episodes of moderate snoring may be a warning sign that you need to get tested. Sleep apnea may be mistaken for periodic insomnia, benign snoring or even anxiety-related disorders, which is why it’s important to be attuned to your sleep patterns and get tested, especially if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • Male
  • Obese
  • Smoker
  • Have enlarged tonsils
  • Drink alcohol frequently
  • Heavy snorer
  • Family history of sleep apnea

Your dentist can help you treat sleep apnea

For years, the primary method for treating sleep apnea was with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that was worn over the face at night. But did you know that some people can get sleep apnea treatment from their dentist?

Oral appliance therapy is 95% effective in resolving the troubling symptoms of sleep apnea. Worn just like a mouthgaurd or orthodontic retainer, the appliance keeps the tongue and jaw in a slightly forward position, keeping the airway open. With consistent use, patients will notice they sleep soundly throughout the night without disruptive snoring episodes.

Sleep apnea treatment in Suffolk County

Here at Long Island Implant & Cosmetic Dentistry, we look forward to helping you sleep better and leading a long, happy and healthy life. For a free sleep apnea consultation in Long Island, we invite you to call our office today.

Additional Sleep Apnea Resources:

  1. Everyday Health, 6 Things People With Sleep Apnea Wish You Knew http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/6-things-people-with-sleep-apnea-wish-you-knew/
  2. Healthy Bookworm, 10 Common Sleep Apnea Symptoms You May Not Know You Have http://healthybookworm.com/health/10-common-sleep-apnea-symptoms/

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Ava Lawson

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