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  • Writer's pictureBarbara McClatchie, DDS

Breaking Down Common Misconceptions about Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a common chronic disorder that disrupts breathing during sleep, is one of the most commonly undiagnosed medical conditions in America, with an average of 75% of severe cases being undiagnosed.

These breathing disruptions can prevent deep, restful sleep, leaving you at greater risk of developing other major underlying health issues such as: high blood pressure, diabetes, hormonal disorders, depression, stroke, asthma, acid reflux, weight gain, heart failure, cognitive decline, and car accidents. At Complete Health Dentistry of Columbus, your hygiene team will start the screening process by asking you a series of questions, to see if you might be at risk.

Common Sleep Apnea Myths

Many people have misconceptions about who is at risk of sleep apnea; here are some common myths about OSA:

  • Sleep apnea is caused by obesity

  • Sleep apnea only occurs in men

  • Children rarely experience sleep apnea

Let’s break down these myths!

Myth #1: Sleep apnea is caused by obesity

The Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute wrote a succinct response to this common misconception:

“Being overweight or obese raises the risk of developing sleep apnea, due to the increased amount of fatty tissue in the throat. Weight is a factor in developing sleep apnea, as the fatty tissue in the back of the throat can collapse and block the airway as the muscles relax during sleep. However, even a well-conditioned athlete who has a large, muscular neck may have a similar problem. Even a thin person can have sleep apnea if he or she has a narrowed airway or structural abnormalities of the jaw, tonsils or adenoids, septum, tongue, and soft palate.”

Myth #2: Sleep apnea only occurs in men

Symptoms of sleep apnea can often present differently in men and women. Many may experience insomnia, mood disturbances, morning headaches, lack of energy, and daytime sleepiness. These symptoms can be easily brushed off as a number of things, such as stress or hormonal changes. Additionally, women who do snore are often more hesitant to bring up their snoring with their doctor. For these reasons, women are more commonly underdiagnosed with sleep apnea.

Myth #3: Children rarely experience sleep apnea

Sleep apnea often presents differently in children than in adults. As sleep apnea leads to greater risk of chronic disease, early diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea is pivotal.

Symptoms of sleep apnea in children

(Source: Cleveland Clinic)

  • Loud or noisy breathing, snoring, or mouth breathing during sleep

  • Brief pauses in breathing during sleep or difficulty breathing during sleep

  • Restless sleep (i.e., lots of tossing and turning)

  • Sweating heavily during sleep

  • Bedwetting

  • Sleeping in odd positions (e.g. neck hyperextended)

  • Inattentiveness and lack of focus at school

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (e.g., child regularly falls asleep in school)

  • Poor academic performance

  • Irritable mood, aggressiveness, other behavioral problems (hyperactivity)

  • Growth issues (Severe OSA can lead to failure to thrive.)

  • Morning headaches

Stop guessing and start testing!

Obstructive Sleep Apnea can take 10–15 years off your life! To learn more about sleep apnea screening in Columbus, contact us today to schedule an appointment at Complete Health Dentistry of Columbus.

Complete Health Dentistry of Columbus, located in Columbus, OH, offers a more comprehensive approach to your dental care so you can live a life of optimal oral and systemic health. As a complete health dental practice, we offer a wide range of services to support and guide you. Whether you seek a traditional dentist, cosmetic dentist, or a complete health dentist, you've chosen the right place! For further information, questions, or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (614) 412-0916.


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