Anyone, even young children, can be diagnosed with sleep apnea or sleep-disordered breathing. However, there are certain key risk factors that everyone should be aware of and seek treatment if present. This will ensure that you get the proper diagnosis the first time and promptly address any related health risks.
You may be more at risk for developing secondary health concerns if several symptoms are present. This is most commonly seen in adults who have gone years without sleep apnea treatment.
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
There are many common and not-so-common sleep apnea risk factors. Sleep study research has produced a list of the more common factors contributing to sleep apnea. Dr. Harper has seen patients with the following factors:
- Being male
- Over the age of 45
- Overweight, obese
- A large neck circumference
- Large tonsils
- Family history of OSA
- Hypertensive, high blood pressure
Dr. William Harper will look for these and other visible risk factors and signs of sleep apnea. Common dental effects of sleep apnea include worn teeth and damaged teeth. Patients who have OSA often grind their teeth or clench their jaw. They may also sleep with their mouth open, which increases dry mouth and can cause halitosis and mouth sores over time.
Visit Dr. Harper’s dentist office in Poquoson, VA for preventive dental care. We can fix worn teeth and the other effects of OSA. Routine visits can allow us to monitor your overall health and changes in your oral health condition and discuss concerns you may have about your physical well-being. Sleep apnea can detrimentally impact your daily quality of life in many ways.
It can often affect the sleep quality of your sleep partner as well. Discuss any lifestyle habits or concerns you have during your next dental care visit or your consultation for sleep apnea. We can provide the most personalized care for your needs under one roof.
Why You May Be at Risk for Sleep Apnea
Age is the most common risk factor you developing sleep apnea. As we get older, our muscles get weaker and skin begins to sag. The muscles are more likely to collapse in the back of your throat. Gender plays a factor as well. Men are more likely to have thicker and bigger necks compared to women. Their throat muscles are usually bigger and are more likely to collapse in the airway. People that are obese are at higher risk too, for the same reasons. Obesity causes fatty deposits on the windpipe.
Your genetics and anatomy play a part too. If you have family that had sleep disorders, you can inherit them. Genetics can mean that you’re predisposed to have a windpipe that’s more narrow than usual. You may also be more likely to have other conditions that make sleep apnea more prominent, like diabetes.
Sometimes, your anatomy creates the perfect storm for sleep apnea. Smaller windpipes are naturally going to mean there are more chances of issues. Blocked nasal passages and a misaligned jaw can cause sleep apnea as well. Misaligned jaws can cause a variety of problems, including TMJ disorders. But many patients don’t realize that they can cause sleep apnea as well. Enlarged tonsils pose a problem as well, particularly in children.
Your lifestyle habits play a big part in your overall health. This is true, too, when it comes to sleep apnea. Smoking cigarettes can lead to a narrowing of the airways. Certain medications make it harder to breathe overnight. Drinking alcohol, too, has this effect. It depresses the brain’s ability to regulate breathing and can suppress breaths. Age-related conditions like dementia and strokes increase the chances of sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea: What Are the Risks?
It is equally important for patients to fully understand the health risks associated with sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing. OSA can significantly increase your risk for various health concerns and, over time, can become life-threatening if untreated.
Patients with sleep apnea may also find it more difficult to manage existing diseases due to poor sleep’s impact on their body’s ability to function at its best.
Sleep apnea can increase the risk of sudden heart attack and stroke due to the continual oxygen deprivation that occurs during sleep. Obtaining a proper diagnosis and the right treatment for your sleep apnea is the key to restoring a better quality of life, decreasing your risk for other health problems, and improving overall wellness.
Is age a risk factor for sleep apnea?
As we age, our muscles begin to deteriorate. When muscles deteriorate, they easily collapse or cause blockages. Your risk of suffering from sleep apnea increases as you age, thus making age a risk factor for sleep apnea.
Who has the greatest risk of having sleep apnea?
Patients who are overweight are at the greatest risk for sleep apnea. Excess weight can cause blockages in the airways. Patients who are overweight are much more likely to have sleep apnea.
Is snoring a risk factor for sleep apnea?
Snoring is a primary risk factor for sleep apnea. If you notice pauses in breathing during and after snoring, or excessive exhaustion during the day, it may be a good idea to see a doctor to diagnose you and provide treatment options.
Can sleep apnea damage your lungs?
Sleep apnea affects breathing, so there is potential lung damage with sleep apnea. It is not common that sleep apnea affects your lungs, but it is possible.
What are the most serious potential consequences of sleep apnea?
Untreated sleep apnea can have life-threatening effects. It can cause many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and premature death.
Are males more likely to suffer from sleep apnea?
Men are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than females. The major risk factors for sleep apnea include obesity, family history, and being male.
Schedule a Risk-free Consultation
Dr Harper is your sleep apnea treatment specialist in Poquoson VA, providing solutions for all ages. If you or your partner snore or suffer from sleep apnea, call our office at (757) 600-6535 for affordable sleep apnea treatment in Hampton Roads.