Sleep Apnea Risk Factors - Schenectady, NY • Capital District
What Could be Affecting Your Sleep in the Capital District
It’s estimated that about 20 million Americans are currently suffering from sleep apnea, with around 80% of those people being completely unaware that they have the disorder. Are you one of them? There are several factors that can increase someone’s chances of developing sleep apnea, with some being hereditary while others are the result of lifestyle choices. Do any of the following sleep apnea risk factors apply to you?
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Obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of sleep apnea, as excess fat deposits around the upper airway can cause it to become blocked more easily when someone lays down.
Snoring is the result of the airway becoming partially cut off during the night. The sound is generated by the tissues in the mouth and throat vibrating as air rushes past them. While not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, those who do are at a greater risk of developing it in the future.
A Thick or Narrow Neck
The anatomy of a person’s airway plays a big role in whether or not they will have sleep apnea as well. People with thicker necks inherently have narrower airways, and the throat passage can also be constricted due to the presence of large tonsils or adenoids.
Right now, men are two to three times more likely to experience sleep apnea than women, but the risk evens out between the genders if a person is overweight.
Adults who are 60+ experience much higher rates of sleep apnea compared to the general population.
If someone in your family has sleep apnea, there is a higher likelihood that you will, too.
Alcohol, Sedatives, & Tranquilizers
Consuming these substances too often or too close to bed can cause the muscles in the throat to over relax and block the airway during the night.
Studies show that smokers are up to three times more likely to have sleep apnea compared to those who have never smoked. Smoking increases inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway, making it easier to become obstructed.
Whether due to chronic allergies or a physical problem like a deviated septum, if someone has difficulty breathing through their nose, they are at a higher risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea.
How to Lower Your Risk
Overall, simply taking good care of yourself is one of the best ways to avoid sleep apnea. Eating a balanced diet and regularly exercising can keep your weight under control, and avoiding alcohol/smoking has a laundry list of additional health benefits. For a problem like chronic nasal congestion, it’s best to talk to your family doctor, and they’ll be able to offer you a solution, whether that involves a nasal spray or corrective surgery.
When to Seek Out Help
However, as you can see, some of these risk factors are completely out of a person’s control. If any of them apply to you and you find yourself feeling tired throughout the day no matter how much you sleep, then you should give Capital Smiles a call. Here, our dentists can perform a few simple tests to determine if you are suffering from sleep apnea, and if you are, they may be able to help you treat it using a custom-made oral appliance.
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