These days, as many people turn to Google for medical information as turn to their doctor, if not more. How unfortunate, then, that the search engine should so routinely put up such misleading information about sleep apnea. Google’s sidebar that shows up as part of the results when people search for sleep apnea make it seem as if CPAP is the only viable treatment for sleep apnea, which is not at all true.
How Google’s Sidebar Misleads
The first thing that stands out about Google’s sidebar, located to the right of the normal search engine results, is that it includes a large picture at the top showing a representation of the condition. The picture has two images, a main image showing a woman looking at her sleeping partner while a nearby clock shows that it’s the middle of the night. Presumably, he’s snoring, although there is no caption.Then a second image, enclosed in a circle, shows a man getting ready to put on the mask of his CPAP machine, helpfully labeled with its full name.
Later down the sidebar explains that “Treatment often includes lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, and the use of a breathing assistance device at night, such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.”
This might be excusable as an abridgement of treatment options, with more detailed information contained on the treatment tab, but if you click on the treatment tab, you see the same options, plus the inclusion of surgical options.
There is no mention of oral appliance therapy. Perhaps the closest it comes is a mention of “airway management,” which might be a reference to oral appliance therapy, which helps to keep your airway open. However, the text under airway management is completely unhelpful: “Clearing a blocked airway of food, foreign objects, fluid and other obstructions. A top priority in emergency situations.” There is no way for a person to learn about oral appliance therapy from this text.
Why Oral Appliance Therapy Needs to Be There
With the millions (if not billions) of Google searches people do each day, this sidebar could very well be one of the most commonly seen explanations of sleep apnea. It’s important that it be accurate and complete. Here are three main reasons why Google is doing searchers a disservice by not putting oral appliances in the sidebar:
- Oral appliances are a frontline treatment
- Oral appliances work as well as CPAP
- Many people don’t benefit from CPAP
In the past, oral appliances were seen only as a backup treatment for CPAP. However, these days we understand that oral appliances are effective treatments for many people. In these cases, especially for people with mild or moderate sleep apnea, it makes little sense to force people to try CPAP before getting an oral appliance.
We also have learned from scientific studies that oral appliances are actually as effective as CPAP for sleep apnea. So, why shouldn’t information be included, especially when surgical treatments are much less successful, but they’re included.
We also know that many people have difficulty complying with CPAP treatment, especially high-risk groups like veterans with PTSD and heart patients. People who have trouble with CPAP need to know there is an alternative.
Get the Truth about Sleep Apnea Treatment
This inaccuracy is another reminder that we shouldn’t trust Google for our medical information. If you’re looking for more accurate information about sleep apnea and its treatment in Omaha, please call (402) 493-4175 today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.