What Increases the Risk of Sleep Apnea?
You have probably heard of sleep apnea and the serious health conditions it can cause, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, impotence, and memory loss. In fact, untreated sleep apnea can shorten your life because you are not receiving adequate oxygen or restful sleep.
Did you know that certain risk factors could increase your chances of having sleep apnea? You might improve your condition by adjusting your lifestyle.
Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
Weight – Patients who are overweight and obese have a greater risk of sleep apnea because of the additional pressure on the throat, chest, and neck due to excess weight and an increased neck size. Losing weight, in conjunction with your treatment, can improve your condition and help you get a better night’s sleep. While no magic number exists, for some patients, losing 5-10% of their body weight can provide dramatic health benefits.
Alcohol – Drinking alcohol relaxes the muscles at the back of the throat and increases the likelihood of excessive snoring and sleep apnea, leading to a higher level of carbon dioxide in the blood. For patients with sleep apnea, it is wise to completely abstain from alcohol use or to limit it at least several hours prior to bedtime.
Smoking – Because smoking can cause inflammation of the upper airway, it increases the likelihood that you will suffer from sleep apnea. Additionally, it places the heart at a greater risk because both smoking and sleep apnea can increase risks for heart disease. Patients who suffer from sleep apnea are encouraged not to smoke.
Other factors that you cannot control such as age, gender, race, and genetics can all play a role in whether you develop sleep apnea. However, taking charge of the risk factors you can control will help your symptoms and make your treatment more effective.
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