Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea is costing the healthcare system in the US billions of dollars. For instance, those with sleep disorders had more medical visits and double the number of prescriptions than those without a sleep disorder. Those with sleep disorders were also more likely to visit the emergency room. Untreated sleep conditions like sleep apnea are contributing to a busier healthcare system and costing Americans lots of money. The question is: why are so many sleep disorders undiagnosed and untreated?

man snoring while laying in bed

Sleep Disorder Patients Experience Costly Medical Care

According to a new study by researchers at Mass Eye and Ear, a member hospital of Mass General Brigham, they found that those with a sleep disorder visited medical offices 16 or more times per year and received 40 or more prescriptions per year than those without a sleep disorder. With more doctor appointments, it can be assumed that this resulted in more time off work, school, and/or social obligations which contributed to decreased productivity and furthermore exacerbated costs to the public. The symptoms associated with sleep disorders were also contributing factors to decreased levels of productivity.

Untreated Sleep Apnea Raises Health Risks

In addition to costing the healthcare system billions of dollars, untreated sleep apnea also raises the risks for other health conditions. Not only do these health conditions affect the quality of life, but they also contribute to additional health costs.

For instance, untreated sleep apnea can cause daytime sleepiness and brain fog that can result in car accidents or accidents operating heavy machinery.

Additionally, untreated sleep apnea can increase the risk for mood disorders and cardiovascular conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure as well as type 2 diabetes.

As sleep disorders continue to go undiagnosed and untreated, they will continue to add costs to the healthcare system.

Why Sleep Apnea Goes Undiagnosed

mature woman laying on her back and snoring in bedIn the US, it’s estimated that 80% of sleep apnea cases are undiagnosed. This is equivalent to about 22 million Americans. With so many people not diagnosed, it’s a wonder why the number is so large. Why isn’t there more public awareness about the dangers of sleep apnea?

One reason why sleep apnea is often undiagnosed is that getting diagnosed can be troublesome. In the past, the only way to get diagnosed was to attend an overnight sleep study. Your health insurance might have covered the cost if you met your deductible, but you might still owe money. Due to this, a lot of people opt not to take the sleep test because they’re worried about the cost of a sleep study.

In addition to the costs of a sleep study, there is the cost of the treatment itself. Treatment is another thing that may or may not be covered by insurance. Without insurance, a CPAP can cost anywhere from $250 to $1,000. Most people think that CPAP is their only treatment option too which doesn’t encourage them to get a diagnosis because they don’t like the idea of wearing a mask while they sleep.

The costs associated with diagnosing and treating sleep apnea are the primary reasons why so many cases go undiagnosed.

In addition to the costs associated with getting diagnosed, a lot of people just aren’t aware of the symptoms of sleep apnea.

Lastly, a lot of Americans simply just don’t have access to testing or treatment—especially if they don’t have health insurance.

Today, home sleep tests are more convenient, affordable, and common. Additionally, alternative treatment options are available. However, most people don’t know these other options exist. 

Signs of Sleep Apnea

The best way to ensure more people receive sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment is to spread awareness about the symptoms. If you experience one or more of the following symptoms, there is a chance you might have sleep apnea.

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring
  • Coughing, choking, gasping during sleep
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Insomnia
  • Morning headaches
  • Waking up with sore throat or dry mouth
  • Teeth clenching and grinding

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis and Treatment in Woburn and Winchester, MA

If you or someone important in your life believe that you might have sleep apnea, the next step is to seek a diagnosis. There are countless barriers to a proper resolution of this terrible health condition. At Divine Smiles, we have been adapting and overcoming impediments to patient health and overall wellbeing for decades. We have been blessed to help our patients with underdiagnosed and undertreated sleep breathing disorders. With knowledge, compassion, and attention to detail, we have drastically shortened the time from lack of diagnosis to treatment. Our comprehensive team approach includes a Board-Certified Pulmonologist, Radiologists, Sleep & TMJD Trained Dentists, Laboratory Technicians, Certified Dental Assistants, as well as Insurance Specialists. Our team works collaboratively to ensure that your potential treatment is appropriate and effective.

We utilize virtual as well as in-person visits so that you can customize your approach to treatment. We offer home sleep tests to reduce hospital visits and find that our patients provide more accurate data sleeping in their own beds for testing. Dr. Clancy will be able to discuss your history, findings, and diagnosis as well as multiple treatment options. This will then be related to any current oral health conditions. Our dental office offers a multitude of custom-fit Mandibular Advancement Devices that work by keeping your jaw forward and preventing soft tissues from collapsing into the airway. In the proper hands, these devices are just as effective as CPAP but do not come with an uncomfortable mask, hoses, or a large machine. 

Treating sleep apnea will help improve your symptoms, quality of life, decrease your risk for other health conditions, and overall help lower your costs of healthcare.

If you or someone you know thinks they might have sleep apnea, don’t wait. Contact our Woburn and Winchester dental office to learn more about sleep apnea treatment. Please call (781) 396-8558 to book an appointment today.