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Who Knew? 5 Surprising Facts About Sleep Apnea

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A magnifying glass looking at puzzle pieces that contain words relating to sleep apnea.

If you don’t know much about sleep apnea, you’re not alone. Though the American Medical Association estimates that approximately 30 million Americans have some form of sleep apnea, only about 6 million cases are diagnosed each year. That means a whopping 80 percent of all cases are undiagnosed. Worse yet, even people familiar with it still may not know some of the most important information about this dangerous disorder. Don’t be in the dark about your health. Keep reading for some surprising sleep apnea facts.

You Can Experience Hundreds of Apnea Episodes a Night

Sleep apnea is defined as a disorder that causes you to stop and restart breathing repeatedly throughout the night. This is known as an apnea, and it can occur hundreds of times in one night. During an apnea, your blood oxygen levels drop quickly, causing your brain to wake you and restart your breathing. This is what prompts you to wake up over and over and why you don’t feel rested the next day.

Obesity Can Increase Your OSA Odds…

When you are obese or overweight (with a BMI of 25 or higher), you are at a higher risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is because you could have a higher concentration of fat around the neck and throat which could obstruct your upper airway and interrupt your breathing.

…But You Don’t Have to Be Overweight or Obese to Have OSA

Anyone of any weight, age, or gender can have OSA or any other form of sleep apnea. In fact, there are many conditions that can increase your risk of sleep apnea, including genetics, smoking, enlarged tonsils, and endocrine disorders.

There is an Increased Risk of Mortality with Sleep Apnea

People with untreated sleep apnea are three times more likely to experience sudden death than those who treat their sleep apnea or do not have the disorder. Furthermore, sleep apnea can also worsen the symptoms of comorbid conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, and even some types of cancer. Worse still, sleep deprivation also increases your risk of workplace and automobile accidents, too.

There’s a Way to Treat Sleep Apnea Without CPAP

One of the most common reasons people don’t stick to their sleep apnea treatment is that they don’t like their CPAP machine. Whether they find the mask uncomfortable, don’t like the feeling of forced air, or don’t want to deal with operating and cleaning the complicated machinery and tubing, some studies have estimated that only about 30 to 40 percent of patients prescribed CPAP stick with it long term.

Thankfully, there is an alternative to CPAP you may not know about. An oral sleep appliance can be custom molded by your dentist to fit comfortably in your mouth while you sleep. This device positions your jaw so that your airway is propped open, allowing you to breathe without obstruction, eliminating the need for CPAP. It’s easier to clean, requires no electricity, has no complicated machinery, and there’s no awkward mask.

Don’t take sleep apnea lying down. If you have this sleep disorder or suspect that you might, speak to your dentist about getting a better night’s rest with the help of an oral sleep appliance today. Armed with this information, you can finally put your fears to rest and take control of your health.

About Our Practice

Your comfort is key at Fairfax Dental Group, which is why we constantly strive to make your experience as stress free as possible. From our relaxing atmosphere to our whole-body approach to treatment, we don’t just think of you as a set of teeth, but as a complete person.

Whether you need general dentistry, a cosmetic procedure, or you’d like to explore your sleep apnea treatment options, we’re here to help. To schedule an appointment, please visit our website or call us at 703-560-6301.