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Why Is Sleep Apnea on the Rise?

June 13, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — drdernick @ 9:33 pm
woman with sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that affects millions of Americans. It causes your breathing to become shallow or stop completely while you sleep. There are some cases where these pauses can last 10 seconds or longer, occurring as often as 30 times or more in an hour. Within the last few years, this sleep disorder has been on the rise for many reasons. Read on to learn which factors can contribute to the development of sleep apnea and what you can do to combat it.  

What Are the Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea?

There are several factors that can increase your risk of sleep apnea, including:

  • Obesity – People with a lot of excess weight are at greater risk of sleep apnea. Since fat deposits around the upper airway, it can obstruct your breathing.
  • Narrowed Airway – If you’ve inherited a narrower throat, you’re more likely to encounter obstructions.
  • Family History – Those with family members who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to develop it.
  • Gender – Men are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnea than women.
  • Smoking – Studies show that smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than those who have never smoked. That’s mainly because smoking can increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
  • Medical Conditions – Certain medical issues like Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and type 2 diabetes can all contribute to sleep apnea.
  • Alcohol Use – Alcohol, sedatives, and tranquilizers all relax the muscles of the throat and can worsen sleep apnea.

How You Can Combat Sleep Apnea

The good news is there are many different things you can do to prevent and lower the severity of sleep apnea. Some steps you can take include:

  • Lifestyle Changes – Do you have mild sleep apnea? You may be able to treat it with some different lifestyle choices. For example, losing excess weight, avoiding alcohol, sleeping in certain positions, and quitting smoking can help.
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) – With this treatment, you’ll need to wear a small mask over your nose while you sleep. It’s hooked up to a machine that delivers a constant flow of air into your nose, keeping airways open and allowing you to breathe the way you should.
  • Oral Appliances – Patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea may benefit from oral appliance therapy, especially if they can’t find relief with CPAP. These devices support the jaw in a forward position to keep the airway open.

Do you think you may have sleep apnea? Make an appointment with your dentist to confirm a diagnosis and get the treatment you need. With their help, you’ll be sleeping soundly in no time!

About the Author

Dr. Robert Dernick is a proud graduate of the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Since opening his practice in 1980, he’s become one of the most experienced dentists in the area. Dr. Dernick is passionate about helping patients enjoy optimal health and a better overall quality of life. If you think you have sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can make an appointment via our website or call (281) 783-3419.

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