Expert explains the risks and signs of sleep apnea
According to studies, about every third German snores. The quota increases significantly with increasing age. But when is snoring dangerous for your health? How does harmless snoring differ from dangerous sleep apnea, which poses a potential risk of heart attacks and strokes? An expert in sleep medicine explains the common myths surrounding snoring and sleep apnea.
Dr. Susheel Patil is director of the sleep medicine department at the renowned Johns Hopkins Medicine University. He explains how sleep apnea can be distinguished from simple snoring and what misinformation is often spread about this topic.
Why is sleep apnea dangerous?
As the German Professional Association of Otorhinolaryngologists reports, normal snoring is very common, but often harmless to health. However, the unpopular sleep sounds can also massively disturb the partner and be a sign of serious health problems. If there is sleep apnea, this can be accompanied by numerous complaints and health risks, such as
- chronic fatigue,
- Concentration problems,
- increased irritability,
- High blood pressure,
- Erectile dysfunction,
- increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Dr. Patil clarifies common myths on the subject, so that those affected can better recognize when you, your partner or family members are affected by sleep apnea.
Myth 1: Everyone who snores has sleep apnea
An existing sleep apnea can be the reason for snoring, but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. As a rule, further symptoms such as constant tiredness and poor performance appear in sleep apnea. People who are just snoring hung rested despite the noise - often in contrast to their bed neighbors.
Myth 2: Everyone who has sleep apnea snores.
Even if you don't snore, you are not at risk of suffering from sleep apnea, warns Dr. Patil. Because around 20 percent of sleep apnea patients do not snore. In addition to snoring, noises such as wheezing, breathing interruptions, gasping for breath or intensive breathing during sleep can indicate sleep apnea. Whoever wakes up with a headache, dry mouth and sore throat could be affected.
Myth 3: Sleep apnea only affects overweight people
Obesity and overweight are, according to Dr. Patil actually has the biggest risk factors for sleep apnea. But there are also numerous influences that are not related to weight. These include, for example, abnormalities in the face or neck such as
- large almonds,
- a small jaw,
- an overbite,
- a set back chin,
- a big neck.
Myth 4: Sleep apnea only occurs in adults
In principle, sleep apnea can occur at any age. According to Patil, 10 to 20 percent of children who snore are also affected by sleep apnea. In total, up to three percent of all children suffer from sleep apnea. Patil's tip: If your child snores regularly, report it to the pediatrician.
Myth 5: Men are mostly affected by sleep apnea
According to Dr. Patil recognizes sleep apnea more quickly in men. In women, on the other hand, this condition often goes undetected. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that women usually do not snore as loudly as men and, on the other hand, that women wait longer with this symptom before contacting a doctor. Menopausal women also have an increased risk of developing sleep apnea.
Myth 6: I don't need to have it investigated
Many people with sleep apnea tend to simply accept the symptoms. It is often the partners who give the push to the doctor. If you suffer from constant difficulty concentrating, tiredness and irritability, are often depressed or depressed and constantly nodding off while watching TV or at work, this could be due to sleep apnea or another sleep disorder. Patil advises: Go to the doctor - there are numerous treatment options that can help against sleep disorders so that you feel better during the day and at night. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Risks: 6 Myths to Know (accessed: October 7, 2019), hopkinsmedicine.org
- German professional association of ear, nose and throat doctors: snoring & sleep apnea - definition and frequency (accessed: 07.10.2019), hno-aerzte-im-netz.de