This year has not been easy on any of us, but we are continuing to learn more about COVID-19 as the year goes on. That is good, but we have a long way to go to fully understand this new virus and disease. Another connection that has been made is that of sleep apnea as a risk factor for COVID-19.

The connection

While more research is needed, a recent study looked at information of COVID-19 patients who were admitted to Turku University Hospital. During the first wave of the pandemic, this included 278 individuals who tested positive. 

What researchers found in this early population of patients with COVID-19 is that 29% had already been diagnosed with sleep apnea. That is a significant number. While the number of patients involved in the study is relatively low, it is important to pay attention because sleep apnea was still high. 

This goes beyond noting obesity in patients with sleep apnea. That is because obesity is already a known risk factor for severe COVID-19.

Patients need diagnosis and treatment

Knowing this, we need to continue to encourage our patients to not only get the diagnosis they need, but treatment as well. We need to ensure our patients feel comfortable visiting our offices to not only receive a diagnosis, but to follow an appropriate treatment plan for sleep apnea as well. 

This means it is important for dentists to provide educational materials on sleep apnea to ensure patients are aware of this condition. The more they know, the better prepared they are to take care of themselves.