Sleep apnea is a condition in which an obstruction causes your breathing to start and stop suddenly while you are sleeping. Often, people with this condition experience unpleasant symptoms without understanding the cause. Since the condition occurs while patients are asleep, they often don’t realize why they may feel tired even after a long night in bed.
That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of sleep apnea. Left unaddressed, the condition may result in significant health consequences, including high blood pressure and heart disease.
Proper treatment will depend on the specific nature of your condition. Often, an oral surgeon will be able to treat the condition. Your oral surgeon will walk you through the various treatment options and help you to select the one that fits your needs.
In the meantime, knowing the symptoms of sleep apnea is an important step in learning whether it may be the root of your health problems. It also helps to understand how certain risk factors make some people more vulnerable to this condition than others. While you should always schedule a visit with your physician as soon as you suspect you may have a health problem, knowing which risk factors apply will make it easier for both you and your physician to determine whether sleep apnea is causing your symptoms.
Some of the risk factors that are worth keeping in mind include the following:
Anyone can develop sleep apnea. That said, the statistics indicate that males are at least twice as likely to develop this condition than females. That doesn’t mean you can’t develop sleep apnea if you’re a female. It simply means that males are at a greater risk. According to one study, approximately 4 percent of middle-aged men struggle with sleep apnea. Among women, it’s just 2 percent.
Your risk of developing sleep apnea rises if you are overweight. Thus, even if you weren’t predisposed to it due to other factors, you may still be vulnerable to it if you become overweight or obese.
Weight gain causes sleep apnea when fat deposits obstruct your breathing. Thus, you may be able to prevent this condition by working out and maintaining a balanced diet. While it’s always important to move forward with any treatments that your physician recommends if you already have sleep apnea, you may be able to reduce the severity of your symptoms by losing weight.
3. Family History
Many medical conditions run in families. Sleep apnea is no different. If you think you may have sleep apnea, examine your family history to see if parents or relatives also have had sleep apnea.
Don’t assume that another disorder is causing your symptoms if you find out that none of your other family member has ever been diagnosed with sleep apnea. You may still have the condition, even if it’s not common in your family. It will simply be easier for physician to know which tests to prioritize when making a diagnosis if they can review your family history and determine that sleep apnea is common among your parents and/or relatives.
Your risk of developing sleep apnea increases with age. The trend typically remains consistent until you reach your 60s or 70s. At that point, it tends to plateau. This is another reason why it’s particularly important for older adults to schedule regular visits with their physician, dentist, or any other medical professional whom they see on a regular basis. Age is a risk factor for many conditions, and sleep apnea has the potential to exacerbate some of them, such as cardiovascular disease. Ensuring that medical professionals have frequent opportunities to monitor your health is key to addressing minor issues before they become larger problems.
5. Poor Health Habits
You probably already know that you should avoid smoking. If you need another reason, consider the fact that smoking has been linked to an increased risk of sleep apnea. That’s because smoking can lead to inflammation in your airways. In addition, it may cause your upper airway to retain more fluid, which can result in an obstruction.
Additionally, drinking alcohol before you go to sleep often relaxes the throat muscles. While this won’t exactly cause sleep apnea, it can worsen its effects. You should make a point to refrain from either of these habits. If you find it difficult to quit smoking, then you should speak with a medical professional to learn about your treatment options.
Again, even if none of these factors applies to you, it doesn’t mean there’s no possibility that you have sleep apnea. The condition has a wide range of potential causes. The points listed here should merely provide an additional context when you discuss your symptoms with your oral surgeon.
Obtaining proper treatment for sleep apnea is key to avoiding significant health consequences. Oral surgery may be the best treatment for your condition. With an oral surgeon’s help, you can sleep through the night and improve your health and quality of life as a result.