We continue to learn new information about COVID-19 as we navigate this pandemic. While things remain unknown, we have learned that people with COVID-19 and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be at an increased risk for complications, according to a study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews. 

What the study found

In this study, researchers looked through databases through June 2020. They searched for papers that included data on COVID-19 and sleep disorders. What they found were 18 studies that looked at both pieces. 

These studies examined comorbidities that are associated with poorer COVID-19 outcomes, including diabetes, hypertension, lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Those conditions led to higher instance rates among patients with OSA. 

Two studies also found that more than 20% of patients in the ICU for COVID-19 also had sleep apnea. In fact, one study found that individuals with OSA and diabetes had an increased risk for death on day seven. We understand that is alarming, but what can help is seeking treatment not only for conditions like diabetes and hypertension, but sleep apnea as well.

Treating sleep apnea

The most common treatment for OSA is the continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP therapy. However, CPAP therapy is an aerosol-generating treatment that can put individuals in the vicinity at high risk for exposure. 

One study actually recommended patients using CPAP cease using it during the pandemic. Instead, patients can use oral appliance therapy to help treat their sleep apnea and prevent the spread of aerosols. 

Don’t delay diagnosis and treatment

There has also been a decline for new OSA diagnosis throughout the pandemic. This may be due to fear of seeking treatment or visiting the dentist. However, you can rest easy knowing dentists continue to take proper preventive measures to protect their patients. 

In fact, the risk of COVID-19 is less than 1% in dental offices, making them extremely safe due to the cleanliness, airflow and preventive measures they continue to follow. 

We continue to learn more as we move through this pandemic, so please reach out to us with any questions about sleep apnea and how we can help.