Not just Your Genes: Controllable Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

December 12, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — gotosleep @ 7:03 pm

Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA is a common condition affecting over 22 million people. Studies suggest that as many as 1 in 50 Americans are undiagnosed. The most common symptoms of sleep apnea are daytime fatigue, insomnia, snoring, awakening with a gasp or startling yourself awake, waking with dry mouth or a sore throat and headache. In some cases, you may not realize you stop breathing or snore loudly enough to wake your family. Sometimes, a partner or spouse can tell you if you exhibit some of these symptoms while you are asleep.

Heredity plays a small role in whether or not you will develop sleep apnea. Factors like being middle-aged or male and having a hereditarily small jaw can’t be controlled. However, there are many other controllable factors to reduce your risk. Some risk factors that increase your chances of having sleep apnea are:

Excess Weight and Large Neck Circumference

Your risk for sleep apnea is higher if you are overweight and have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more. Fat deposits around the upper airway may obstruct breathing. However, not everyone with obstructive sleep apnea is overweight and vice versa. Having a large neck circumference of over 17” for men and 15” for women can also increase your risk. Check out these sleep health tips from the American Sleep Apnea Association.

High Blood Pressure

OSA sleep apnea is relatively common in people with hypertension because of the constant fluctuations in blood oxygen levels during apneic events.


 People who smoke are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea. Smoking affects the blood vessels and can lead to high blood pressure posing a double risk for patients.


Obstructive sleep apnea may be more common in people with diabetes.

Chronic Nasal Congestion

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs twice as often in those who have consistent nasal congestion at night, regardless of the cause. If you are at risk of developing sleep apnea and have any of these symptoms, loud, disruptive snoring, grunting or gasping for breath that causes you to wake up, daytime sleepiness or signs of depression, take our sleep survey and make an appointment for an airway screening. Your doctor will ask a series of questions, like your daily stress levels, history of depression, and they will check your blood pressure. A physical exam of the mouth and soft tissue will be performed. You may be referred to a sleep specialist for an overnight sleep study to see if you have sleep apnea. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are many treatment methods you and your sleep medicine doctors can explore. Breathing machines like CPAPs, oral appliances that are worn at night, changes in lifestyle and losing excess weight, if necessary, are all designed to help manage symptoms of sleep apnea and help give you back the sleep of your dreams. Learn more about how we effectively treat Sleep Apnea and Snoring with dental appliances! Schedule your appointment today – it could save your life!

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