Sleep apnea, a sleep disorder characterized by regular lapses in breathing during sleep, is a common, yet very dangerous condition. While sleep apnea is very treatable if it is diagnosed correctly, failure to treat the sleep disorder can result in a multitude of health concerns. Those suffering from sleep apnea are at higher risk for high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, depression, daytime fatigue and even cardiovascular issues.

For these reasons, it’s important to have your sleep apnea disorder diagnosed and treated as soon as you suspect there may be an issue. The good news is there are plenty of warning signs and risk factors to help you get the medical attention to manage sleep apnea.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

Several factors can increase your chances of developing sleep apnea. Here’s a look at some of the more significant risk factors.

Do You Snore?

Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but it is a common indicator of the sleep disorder that can indicate airway blockage during sleeping.

Do You Struggle with Obesity?

People who are overweight or have obesity typically have excess fat in the neck area and excess tissue in the airway that may lead to the onset of sleep apnea.

Do You Experience Daytime Drowsiness?

If you don’t feel well rested when you wake in the morning or if you’re regularly nodding off during the daytime hours, the answer to the issue may not be as simple as “getting more sleep.” That’s because the lapses in breathing that characterize sleep apnea also interrupt the sleep cycle.

Do You Suffer from Heartburn?

If you begin to experience heartburn or acid reflux, the underlying issue could be sleep apnea. Researchers, in fact, have linked acid reflux to airway pressure changes that occur with sleep apnea.

Are You Male?

That’s right. Men are generally more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder than women. In fact, research indicates men are about twice as likely as women to be diagnosed with sleep apnea. However, we should note, any individual's risk of developing sleep apnea increases after they reach 40 years old – male or female.

Do You Smoke or Drink Alcohol?

Certain lifestyle decisions, like smoking and consuming alcohol, can help lead to sleep apnea. This is because smoking cigarettes can lead to inflammation of the airway, which can thereby cause it to close overnight. Consuming alcohol, especially before bed, can cause the throat to relax and narrow.

Do You Have Enlarged Tonsils?

This is a leading risk factor of sleep apnea among children. Tonsils may become enlarged to the point where they restrict airflow and breathing. 

Your Dentist Can Help!

Understanding whether or not you're at risk of developing sleep apnea is the first step. Don’t let sleep apnea affect your quality of life. Talk with your doctor about any symptoms you're experiencing. 

For more information, contact Kanehl Dental today.

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