“Certain statistics show that 80% of the country snores of which, about half of those people probably have obstructive sleep apnea,” says Dr. Suleman Iqbal, a sleep medicine specialist at Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital.
Dr. Iqbal says sleep apnea can be dangerous if left untreated.
“If you have sleep apnea then you’re not getting enough oxygen in your body, and as a result, that can negatively affect many organs,” says Dr. Iqbal.
This means an increased risk for conditions like coronary artery disease, arythmias of the heart, and diabetes.
The first step towards treatment is finding out if you do in fact have sleep apnea. This is done with a sleep study – either at home or in lab.
The next step is finding the right treatment.
“The gold standard and the most successful therapy is usually a CPAP machine. That’s works in most, if not all circumstances; however, it might not be the right treatment for everyone,” says Dr. Iqbal.
Lifestyle changes like losing weight, avoiding alcohol before bed, and not sleeping on your back can also help. Some patients benefit from using an oral appliance from their dentist and for others, surgery might even be an option.
“There are some new surgical techniques out that can also help alleviate obstructive sleep apnea,” says Dr. Iqbal.