Sleep apnea, or interruptions to breathing during sleep, is a condition that affects one third of all Americans, yet 90% are unaware and remain untreated.
“Sleep apnea does not discriminate based on your occupation, physical size, shape or level of fitness, and has the power to significantly impair day-to-day functions,” says Martha Cortes, DDS and leading sleep expert in Manhattan. “Contrary to the common assumption that sleep apnea only affects overweight, middle-aged men with thick necks, the new apneic is: athletic with small facial structures/ airway, and a thin neck, and if left untreated, will worsen, and may be damaging.”
The following facts about sleep apnea can aid in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment:
Sleep apnea causes oxidative stress, which speeds up the aging process and impairs the immune system, and is often misdiagnosed as symptoms of diabetes, hypertension (40-60% of the contribution is due to sleep apnea), renal dialysis or cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, atrial fibrillation or stroke).
Mental health disorders such as: anxiety, depression, and anger issues are linked to sleep disorders (Note: Sleep apnea is often misdiagnosed as a mental health disorder, as little-to-no-oxygen makes the condition worsen. The danger in misdiagnosis is that the root cause (little oxygen) during sleep remains and will only worsen if untreated.)
Those who share a bed with someone who snores can develop Spousal Arousal Syndrome (SAS), experiencing the same lack-of-sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness (a neurological disorder) as those with sleep apnea—causing similar health issues.
One of the leading causes of divorce in the U.S. is the loss of intimacy. While there are a variety of reasons this may occur, sleep apnea may be one of them.
Flushing out the nasal passages daily with a saline product like Arm & Hammer Simply Saline, aids in prevention of nasal obstruction, which is often a contributor to mouth breathing and snoring.
“Whenever I suspect a patient suffers from sleep apnea, I recommend a sleep test to determine the possible root of the problem,” adds Cortes. “And, although dentists are knowledgeable on the symptoms and treatments, only a medical doctor can make an official diagnosis.”
Dr. Martha Cortes is the author of the upcoming book The 7 Faces of Sleep Apnea