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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the tongue, tonsils, or other throat tissue blocks the airway, stopping breathing.Sleep apnea is often misunderstood regarding its risks and possible treatments. Below we will sort out some of the common myths and give you the facts to better understand this misunderstood affliction.
This is probably the most common myth regarding sleep apnea. In many individuals sleep apnea can be the cause of snoring while sleeping. The real issue with sleep apnea is that it actually causes a person to stop breathing while sleeping up to 400-500 times a night for a duration of 10-20 seconds each time.
In the United States alone anywhere between 25-50% of the population snores at one time or another. Snoring can be caused by a cold, being overweight, or even alcohol use.
If left untreated sleep apnea can be life threatening. It affects a person’s sleep as well as their daily activites. Not being fully rested can lead to accidents and injuries. It has also been shown to be linked to heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, and decreased sex drive.
It is true that sleep apnea is more common in people over age 40 but it can develop at any age. It is estimated that about 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. It can also affect children. The groups most at risk include people over 40 years of age, men, African Americans, Latino’s, and those with a family history.
Many try to solve their sleep apnea problem using medications or alcohol. These methods can actually make things worse because the muscles will relax further making it far easier for the airway to become blocked.
There are various treatments for sleep apnea including use of TAP III dental appliance, a CPAP machine (machine that blows a stream of air into the person’s airway in order to keep it open while sleeping), and weight loss programs. The treatment depends on the severity of the sleep apnea which can be assessed during a sleep study. Consult your dentist or physician for the best course of action if you suspect you have sleep apnea.