May 22, 2021
In recent years, the prevalence of sleep apnea in the United States has been on the rise. Across the country, more and more people are discovering that they’re suffering from breathing problems at night, and about 38,000 people die with this sleep disorder as a complicating factor every year. If you want to keep yourself safe, you need to understand why sleep apnea has become more widespread so that you can address the potential risk factors.
What is Contributing to the Rise in Sleep Apnea Cases?
A big part of the rise in sleep apnea cases is the fact that obesity is also becoming more widespread. Federal health officials in 2020 noted that in 2017-2018, the obesity rate reached 42.4% for the first time. When you’re overweight, fat deposits tend to form around the upper respiratory track, narrowing the airway and making you more prone to sleep apnea episodes; for this reason, obesity is considered a major risk factor for sleep apnea, and that in turn helps explain why the disorder is more common nowadays.
That said, some experts believe that the apparent rise in sleep apnea cases is a result of people becoming more knowledgeable about the illness and its symptoms. It’s believed that the vast majority of sleep apnea sufferers don’t even realize they have the condition, which in turn leads to them never seeking treatment and thus not being diagnosed properly. But thanks to more people being aware of sleep apnea and how to recognize it, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to recognize a potential disorder early on.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from Sleep Apnea?
So how can you keep yourself safe from sleep apnea? Obviously, maintaining a healthy weight goes a long way towards minimizing the risk; that means getting plenty of exercise and being conscious about your diet. Talk to your regular physician for other ideas regarding weight control.
There are other steps you can take to lower the risk as well:
- Sleep on your side instead of your back. More than half of obstructive sleep apnea cases are dependent on sleeping position.
- Use a humidifier in your bead room to help open your airways and decrease congestion.
- Do not drink alcohol before bed. Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles that control breathing and can make sleep apnea worse.
- Ask a sleep dentist for a custom-made oral appliance.
Not all cases of sleep apnea are the same, so be sure to talk to a sleep expert before pursuing specific forms of treatment. Even with sleep apnea cases on the rise, you can still ensure a good night’s sleep by being proactive about treatment as soon as you recognize potential symptoms.
About the Author
Dr. Robert Dernick was drawn to dentistry at an early age and has enjoyed pursuing a career where he serves others and helps them lead better lives. He is currently putting his years of dental experience to good use by helping patients with sleep apnea enjoy a peaceful night’s rest again. If you have concerns about sleep apnea, you can schedule a consultation with Dr. Dernick by visiting his website or calling (281) 363-2770.
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