23 Jun Who is at risk for sleep apnea?
In recent years, more television shows and newspapers have shed light on the incidence of sleep apnea and how it affects health. Many people now know that sleep apnea is more than just a common sleep condition – it’s a health problem that affects the entire body.
Sleep apnea is a condition where a person literally stops breathing throughout sleep for small intervals of time. During periods of breathing cessation, the brain will send signals to wake the body to reinitiate proper breathing. While anyone can have this common sleep disorder, there are characteristics that put some people at a higher risk for sleep apnea than others. Common characteristics of sleep apnea sufferers include those who are overweight or obese or those with large necks. People who smoke, have frequent sinus congestion, or take sedatives are also prone to having sleep apnea.
What causes sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is caused by nasal or oral obstructions of the airways. For instance, when the soft tissues of the mouth relax during sleep, they can block airways – especially if these tissues are larger than they should be. Nasal obstructions also impair one’s ability to breathe properly when sleeping.
How does sleep apnea affect my health?
Sleep apnea disrupts the natural sleep cycle. Over time, sleep apnea will cause sleep deprivation, which can have many effects on physical and emotional health. Sleep deprivation impairs cognitive and motor function as well as mood. On top of sleep deprivation, those with sleep apnea are at risk for heart disease and stroke. This is likely because improper breathing throughout the night weakens the heart muscle and lowers oxygen intake.
How is this condition treated?
Patients with sleep apnea may benefit from oral appliances and CPAP masks (a machine that emits a stream of air through the nose and throat to keep airways open). Others may require surgery to correct abnormalities in the nose and mouth that obstruct breathing.
If you believe you have sleep apnea, we recommend that you consult with our skilled team of oral surgeons. Call us today to schedule an appointment.