The Misdiagnosis of Sleep Apnea & Misuse of CPAP Machines

10 February 2016
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


Sleep apnea is a serious breathing condition that causes people to stop breathing for minutes at a time as they sleep. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause even more serious problems, including heart damage and even death. However, it can be misdiagnosed and the CPAP machines used to promote breathing may also be misused.

Conditions Commonly Misdiagnosed As Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea causes a wide range of symptoms, including restlessness, suddenly waking up at night, loud snoring, and increased blood pressure. It also causes sleepiness and, as a result, it can be misdiagnosed. Conditions that are commonly mistaken instead of sleep apnea include:

  • Worm infestations cause sleeping problems, as well as anal itch and other symptoms. This is most common in children.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome causes your legs to be uncontrollably "restless." You may wake you up at night and need to pace, which makes this problem easy to mistake for sleep apnea.
  • Insomnia is a condition that causes people to have a hard time falling asleep or sleep sporadically may feel as if they suddenly "jerk" awake, in the way they do with sleep apnea.
  • Narcolepsy causes a person to fall asleep at inopportune times and often mimics the grogginess that comes with sleep apnea.

Don't forget that there is a chance that these conditions may also be falsely diagnosed as sleep apnea. Usually, a sleep study will confirm the exact problem, but there is always a margin of human error.

Misdiagnosis Is a Serious Concern

When sleep apnea is ignored or misdiagnosed, serious problems might occur. For example, a man in New Jersey required a nap during the middle of the work day and even during his drive home at the end of the day! This in spite of the fact that he thought he was getting eight hours of sleep a night.

His condition was ignored until he finally decided to get a sleep study. The doctors there confirmed his diagnosis of sleep apnea and prescribed a treatment. This man spent most of his adult life feeling excessively tired and could have experienced problems associated with lack of sleep, including a low sex drive, high blood pressure, lost brain cells, or car accidents.

Sleep apnea misdiagnoses can be potentially serious, so it's crucial that you talk to a doctor about it as soon as possible. A second opinion will either confirm your diagnosis or find the right problem and the best solution. For more information, consult resources like Quality Dental Care L.L.C.