DR. DONALD JOHNSON: Common sleep apnea misconceptions: If you snore and think it’s ‘just snoring,’ read on!

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If you say, “I just snore. It’s no big deal and I don’t want to see a doctor,” then you just don’t know how dangerous it is! Loud, chronic snoring has always been an indicator that you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If you have OSA, you have many breathing pauses during sleep and this results in your brain being deprived of a great deal of oxygen during the night. Many of our patients were losing 60 minutes of oxygen during each night. No wonder they wake up tired! And no wonder they have so many other health problems. The result of this oxygen deprivation can be daytime sleepiness and can have an effect on your physical and brain activity.

If the condition is left untreated, OSA will cause patients to be at risk for many, many problems such as difficulty concentrating and learning, depression and irritability, cardiovascular problems, and sexual dysfunction and memory problems. To learn more, go to our website (www.NWSleepDoc.com). And if you experience any symptoms described, please make an appointment for a free consultation to discuss them.

If you say, “My doctor said the CPAP mask if the only way to treat OSA; custom oral appliances just don’t work,” then read on! CPAP, a blower that basically blows you up like a balloon, opens the airway with air pressure. It is an effective treatment for OSA for people who can tolerate it. But most people can’t tolerate it.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (the sleep doctors) issued, in 2015, its guidelines for treatment of OSA and recognized that custom oral appliances are an effective treatment alternative to the use of CPAP, especially for those with mild or moderate OSA. See our website (www.NWSleepDoc.com) to see how an oral appliance creates an open airway.

If you say, “OSA is only found in fat, old men so there is no chance at all that I have OSA,” then read on! Studies show that over 18 million in the U.S. alone have OSA. And about 90 percent of them are undiagnosed or untreated. OSA occurs in men and women of all sizes, shapes, and ages. It even occurs in children. Most of our patients with OSA are not fat and are not old.

If you say, “I am the one with OSA, so if I can tolerate it, then it’s fine, right?,” then read on! The answer to that question is a resounding NO! OSA will also affect your partner’s and your family’s health too. They will suffer from your snoring, gasping, and chronic tiredness and lose sleep too. Studies show that treating OSA can also improve one’s personal relationships. If you have OSA symptoms that you have seen on our website, then talk to your partner. Both of you should come to a free consultation at our office to see what can be done.

If you say, “OSA treatment would be a big change to my lifestyle and may cause me to never sleep normally again,” then read on. Treatment of OSA doesn’t mean you will be giving up your natural sleep — it means you will be getting more natural sleep than you have ever had before! The use of an oral appliance will let you sleep more naturally than a CPAP machine. The oral appliance lets you sleep on your side, stomach, or back. It helps you sleep so you can wake up refreshed and ready to go the next morning.

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Dr. Donald Johnson founded Northwest Treatment Center for Snoring & Sleep Apnea in Coeur d’Alene to help patients stop their snoring and live free with no limits! Obstructive sleep apnea is usually able to be treated with a small oral appliance. Dr. Johnson’s office is at 114 W. Neider Ave., near Costco. The website for more information is www.NWSleepDoc.com and the office phone is 208-667-4551. Schedule a free consultation appointment today!

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