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Sleep Apnea Pop Quiz: Myths and Facts
a-gradeby Dana Supe, M.D.

True or False?

  1. Children can have sleep apnea.
  2. Sleep apnea increases your risk of death.
  3. Everyone who snores has at least some form of sleep apnea.
  4. There is no cure for sleep apnea.
  5. Sleep apnea is more common in men.

 

ANSWERS BELOW

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1. "Children can have sleep apnea."

True.
Children tend to show symptoms like irritability, difficulty concentrating and maybe even fatigue. Parents may notice snoring or frequent awakenings.

2. "Sleep apnea increases your risk of death."
True.
People with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to develop high blood pressure; heart attack; stroke; and even irregular heart rhythms, which can lead to sudden death.

3. "Everyone who snores has at least some form of sleep apnea."
False.
While snoring is one sleep apnea symptom, it's not a definite sign you have it. You need a sleep study for proper diagnosis. Other conditions that can cause snoring include seasonal allergies; nasal congestion; and too much tissue in the upper airway, such as large tonsils. These may also be associated with underlying sleep apnea, just not always.

4. "There's no cure for sleep apnea."
False.
For some people, it is curable. Weight loss or controlling your allergy symptoms may be enough. If not, sleep apnea is at least treatable.

5. "Sleep apnea is more common in men."
True.
About 2 to 5 percent of American adults have sleep apnea. Most are men. However, women can develop it as well, especially if they have:

  • weight problems—particularly obesity.
  • a history of conditions like congestive heart failure or stroke.
  • certain musculoskeletal or neurological disorders.
  • crowding of the upper airway (lots of tissue).

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LEARN MORE ABOUT SLEEP APNEA:


Board-certified sleep specialist DANA SUPE, M.D., is director of the Sleep Diagnostics Laboratory at Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Brown Mills, N.J. She's also board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonology and critical care.

Last updated and/or approved: April 2010. Original article appeared in March/April 2009 former print magazine. Bio current as of March 2009. This article is not meant as individual advice. Please see our disclaimer.

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