Updated: 12/08/2016 3:51 PM | Print Story |  Email

Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea? Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by breathing patterns during sleep that decreases oxygen due to shallow breathing, pauses in breathing, or infrequent breathing. In the US, it is estimated that there are 22 million patients with moderate to severe symptoms and only 20% have been diagnosed. Undiagnosed sleep apnea has significant health implications. All of the following diseases are impacted by untreated sleep apnea: coronary artery disease, stroke, elevated blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, work related accidents, motor vehicle accidents, liver disease and diabetes.

Dr. Ryan Dick from Entira Family Clinics clears up some of the myths.


Sleep Apnea Myths

  1. Myth 1: sleep apnea is just snoring

    + snoring can be a symptom of the sleep disorder, but there's a big difference between the two
    + people with the condition actually stop breathing up to 400 times throughout the night -- these pauses last 10 to 30 seconds
    + this breaks your sleep cycle and can leave you tired during the day


  1. Myth 2: overweight men are the only demographic to get sleep apnea

+ not all sleep apnea sufferers snore, many are not obese or even overweight, and not all of them are male
+ women's symptoms are often slightly different than men's -- women are often misdiagnosed
            - snoring is usually much lighter
            - breathing problems during sleep more subtle
            - apnea events are usually shorter in duration and frequency than men's are

  1. Myth 3: kids can't get sleep apnea

    + it's more common after the age of 40, but it can affect people of all ages
    + obstructive sleep apnea is common in children, affecting as many as 1 in 10
    + in most cases, the symptoms are mild, and the child eventually outgrows it
    + some may start to have behavior troubles or serious medical problems because of it

While sleep apnea can affect anyone, common risk factors include:

  • Male
  • Over 40
  • Large neck size (17 inches)
  • Loud snoring
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Small jaw
  • Enlarged tongue
  • Reflux disease
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Allergies
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Deviated septum causing nasal obstruction
  • Sleeping meds, anti-anxiety Medication and alcohol affect breathing
  • Smokers