R. Kirk Huntsman | 3 Urgent Myths About Sleep-Disordered Breathing


Sleep-Disordered Breathing (SDB) comprises various chronic sleep conditions that cause some to many pauses in breathing throughout a person’s sleep cycle.  According to the American Thoracic Society (ATS), “A breathing pause of 10 seconds or more is termed an apnea.”  These apneas can cause moderate to severe health problems if not examined and treated by a physician.  SDB can result in chronic fatigue and tiredness, as well as much more severe symptoms such as a loss of life.  These symptoms can inhibit one’s ability to function fully during hours of wakefulness.

ATS goes on to say that one “must be evaluated by a polysomnogram (sleep test),… It has been suggested that 93% of women and 82% of men with signs and symptoms of moderate to severe SDB remain undiagnosed.”  This is why it is of the utmost importance that one knows the common misconceptions about SDB.  Below are three common misconceptions about SDB that need to be erased.

1) Sleep apnea does not affect someone’s ability to live a full life.

In the case of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the most common SDB, it could be the difference between life and death.  “The most common breathing disorder of sleep is OSA, which is characterized by recurrent narrowing or collapse of the back of the throat because of the loss of muscle tone that occurs during sleep.”  OSA requires someone to get a machine that pressurizes the airway so that one can keep breathing when an apnea occurs.

2) Obesity, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, depression, diabetes, and other serious health issues do not relate to the quality amount of sleep someone gets.

By way of example, OSA affects the amount of insulin and growth hormones your body produces.  The first leads to diabetes, while the later leads to obesity.  When someone has had OSA for an extended period of time, such as the president, William Howard Taft, had, one can be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.  These diseases and ailments are no laughing matter and need to be addressed immediately.

3) SDB cannot be caused by problems with the jaw and teeth.

One can make themselves open to getting cavities and swollen adenoids and tonsils when one has SDB.  These restrict breathing.  If you have a, “bad bite,” in your teeth, meaning they are crooked or overcrowded, this can cause the jaw to be set back further than normal, causing further restriction to the airway.  These symptoms can contribute significantly to SDB.

Overall, it is vital to get possible SDB symptoms checked.  It can be the difference between a lot of energy during the day or chronic fatigue.  It can be the difference between life and death at times.  Symptoms such as snoring or extended periods of apnea, should be examined by a physician.  There is value is having a dentist check your bite, as well.  SDB is common, but it can be fixed with simple treatments.