4 Factors That Put You at Greater Risk of Developing Sleep Apnea

Does your partner often complain about your snoring episodes? Do you often awaken during the night to find yourself gasping for breath? If so, you may be suffering from sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is characterized by short episodes, ranging from a few seconds to one minute, in which you stop breathing in your sleep.

Unfortunately, these breathing difficulties and fatigue the next day aren’t the only possible consequences of this sleep-disrupting condition. Sleep apnea also raises your risk for stroke, heart disease, hypertension, and erectile dysfunction.

The dentists at Fresh Dental Care want to share the four biggest risk factors for developing sleep apnea.

1. Obesity

Sleep apnea has been shown to be twice as common in obese adults as in healthy-weight individuals.

Patients at a healthy weight who suffer from sleep apnea endure worsening symptoms with even a slight weight gain. This occurs because fat deposits in the neck area put pressure on the airways, making it harder to breathe during the night.

On the other hand, losing weight can lead to lessened sleep apnea symptoms. Therefore, interventions such as bariatric surgery and weight loss are excellent options for obese individuals looking to improve their sleep and overall health.

2. Smoking

Current studies show a link between smoking and sleep apnea due to upper airway inflammation caused by cigarette smoke.

Inflammation causes the uvula and tonsils to swell, narrowing your capacity to take in air.

3. Chronic nasal congestion

Nasal congestion may seem innocent, but it can lead to irregular breathing during sleep.

Fortunately, once you address the root cause of your nasal congestion, you can expect a significant improvement in your sleep apnea symptoms.

4. Medications

Certain medications such as antihistamines and antidepressants are indirectly linked to sleep apnea due to the increased risk of gaining weight while taking them regularly.

Painkillers, especially opiates like oxycodone, are known to relax the muscles and cause irregular breathing, creating the perfect environment for apneic episodes to occur.

And sleeping pills can be downright dangerous to take if you suffer from sleep apnea. They enable your body to enter a deeper sleep, making it more difficult for your brain to wake you up when you stop breathing.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

Because sleep apnea manifests itself in the throat and mouth, a dentist is often able to tell during a consultation whether you suffer from it just by checking your throat for inflammation and redness. Another way you can get a diagnosis is by participating in a sleep study.

We have three convenient locations in Houston: on Bellaire Boulevard, North Freeway 105, and Gulf Freeway B. Call the location of your choice to schedule an appointment, or you can send us a message here on our website. We’re happy to help! 

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