Get the facts

Common myths about obstructive sleep apnea explained

Learn the facts from Teofilo Lee‑Chiong MD
Chief Medical Liaison, Philips

How dangerous is OSA?

Myth

Snoring is simply a nuisance and does not have any medical consequences.

Fact

Snoring is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea, which can have both short-term and long-term health consequences if left untreated.

Myth

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a harmless medical condition.
 

Fact

Untreated OSA can increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and heart attack, stroke, and fatigue-related motor vehicle and work accidents. OSA can even be fatal if left untreated.
High blood pressure
Heart disease
Heart attack
Stroke
Accident

Who is really at risk?

Myth

Adults who have had a tonsillectomy during childhood do not develop obstructive sleep apnea.

Fact

Even if you have had a tonsillectomy, you can still develop obstructive sleep apnea as an adult.

Myth

I never sleep on my back and, therefore, I am unlikely to have obstructive sleep apnea.

 

Fact

Sleep apnea can develop regardless of your sleeping positions.

Myth

Only obese, middle-aged men develop obstructive sleep apnea.

 

Fact

Sleep apnea affects men, women, and children of all body weights and ages.

About 10%

of the adult population in the world is suffering from sleep apnea. About 90% of them have not been diagnosed.

*Young T. et al. Epidemiology of obstructive sleep apnea: a population health perspective. AJRCCM 2002;165:1217-1239.

How do I get diagnosed?

Myth

A simple nighttime measurement of oxygen in the blood system is sufficient to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea.

Fact

Diagnosing sleep apnea also requires measurements of brain activity, breathing, limb and muscle movement, and sound.

Myth

An overnight hospital stay is the the only way to be diagnosed for sleep apnea.
 

Fact

Overnight sleep studies can be carried out in the comfort of your own home. The recording device is lightweight, portable and easy to use.

Myth

I don't think I will be comfortable sleeping with the equipment.

 

Fact

Portable sleep-testing devices are designed with the patient in mind, meaning that they are small and compact and shouldn't interfere with a nights sleep.

Understanding CPAP masks

Myth

A full face CPAP mask is always preferred over a nasal mask.

Fact

Not necessarily. Full-face masks are associated with more mask leaks, higher device pressure requirements, and lower treatment compliance. Many people do well with a nasal mask if they do not breathe through their mouth. If they do, a nasal mask with a chin strap is an alternative solution.

Myth

Wearing a CPAP mask makes me look unattractive.

Fact

A recent study has shown that CPAP users look more attractive than those who are untreated. A good night’s sleep in the same room as your partner may be worth the mask..

Myth

One mask fits all.

Fact

Everyone’s face is unique. It’s important to find the mask that fits and works for you. 

Understanding CPAP devices

Myth

Most people who have been prescribed CPAP devices do not use them.

Fact

Advances in masks, devices, and motivational aids can help those who struggle with therapy to become regular CPAP users

Myth

It is hard to sleep with a CPAP machine because of the loud noises it makes.

Fact

New technological advancements now allow for much quieter CPAP machines.

Myth

All CPAP devices are alike.
 

Fact

CPAP devices have different features, including fixed or variable pressure, pressure relief technology, and humidification. Find what works best for you.

Understanding treatment

Myth

Being overweight is the only cause of OSA.
 

Fact

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea occurs in thin people too! Enlarged tonsils, large tongue, weak muscles can contribute to a narrow airway making the flow of air more difficult. Alcohol and sedatives can also increase snoring and cause apnoea.

Myth

CPAP users will die immediately if a power failure occurs

Fact

Absolutely not! All masks are designed to allow you to breathe room air if your device stops working.

Myth

I am too old to start CPAP therapy.
 

Fact

You’re never too old to start enjoying the benefits of treating your sleep apnea.

Myth

Oxygen therapy is as effective as CPAP for people with obstructive sleep apnea.

Fact

It’s not. Unlike oxygen therapy, CPAP addresses pauses in breathing. In some cases, oxygen therapy may be prescribed in combination with CPAP.

Myth

Drinking alcohol at bedtime helps me sleep better

Fact

Alcohol might help you fall asleep quicker, but it reduces rapid eye movement (REM), an important stage of your sleep. It can also worsen sleep apnea symptoms.

Myth

Losing weight alone will treat my obstructive sleep apnea.

Fact

It may help, but since obesity is not the only cause of sleep apnea, you may require CPAP therapy regardless of your weight. However with weight loss, you may require a lower CPAP pressure to treat your OSA, making therapy more comfortable.


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