It is estimated that over 22 million Americans suffer from some degree of sleep apnea. If that number doesn’t alarm you, the fact that only approximately 20% of them are diagnosed should. That’s right—80% of people with sleep apnea are unaware that they have it, and therefore remain untreated. This is a big problem! Sleep apnea, when left untreated, is associated with many health conditions and complications, including:
- High blood pressure
- Liver problems
- Chronic heart failure
- Elevated risk of fatal motor vehicle accidents
- Relationship strain due to snoring
- Poor work performance
- And more!
When there are so many negative outcomes associated with untreated sleep apnea, it can be stupefying that the rate of diagnosis is so alarmingly low. But sleep apnea can be tricky. For one thing, it’s symptoms can look a lot like many other things, including a quality of life that Americans have grown rather accustomed to—chronically tired, stressed-out, and suffering from frustrating weight gain.
In addition, the symptoms of sleep apnea can be embarrassing to talk about. No one wants to admit that they snore, or that they are suffering from irritability or the inability to concentrate at work. Furthermore, the symptoms of sleep apnea can often be misdiagnosed. For example, in women, symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, and depression are more common than the snoring and gasping typically associated with sleep apnea. But these symptoms can be associated with many other conditions, so sleep apnea is not often the cause that comes to mind. In fact, it’s often mistaken for hypertension, hypochondria, or mental health imbalances.
It’s important to recognize the signs of sleep apnea, and to address them immediately if you or your sleep partner are exhibiting them. Some signs of sleep apnea to watch for include:
- Morning headaches
- Dry mouth upon waking
- Sore throat upon waking
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating at work
- High blood pressure
- Gasping, choking, or paused breathing during sleep
- Loud or excessive snoring
If you or your sleep partner are experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to get tested for sleep apnea. If you are diagnosed, rest assured that there are several ways to treat sleep apnea, including oral appliance therapy. To learn more, visit https://kyedentistry.com/.
Dr. Keith A. Kye, DDS, FAGD is dedicated to improving the lives of his patients in the Huntersville and Lake Norman area of Charlotte, North Carolina through the use of oral appliance therapy.