Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when an obstruction (such as excess throat tissue) temporarily blocks your airway while you sleep. This can cause intense snoring, gasping for air, and choking. 

Not only does this keep you from a restful night of sleep, but untreated sleep apnea also increases your risk of high blood pressure and other serious complications.

Sleep apnea affects people of all ages, but certain risk factors increase the likelihood that you develop sleep apnea. 

Accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Dr. Roberto Palmieri wants you to know the risk factors (and the warning signs) of sleep apnea so you can seek treatment as early as possible.

7 risk factors for sleep apnea

Sleep apnea affects adults as well as children, but the following risk factors do increase your risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea.

1. Being overweight or obese 

According to research, as many as 45% of overweight individuals have obstructive sleep apnea. When you’re overweight, you develop fatty deposits, including around your upper airway. This can affect your breathing at night, especially when you’re lying flat on your back.

2. Smoking

Smoking increases your risk of developing sleep apnea threefold. Smoking affects your oral health in other ways too, increasing your risk of gum disease and oral cancer. 

3. Being male

Men are at higher risk of developing sleep apnea. The male-to-female ratio for sleep apnea cases is 3:1 (for young men) and 5:1 (for older men). 

It should be noted that many cases of sleep apnea in women are misdiagnosed so these numbers might be higher for women in reality, according to the same research. 

4. Anatomical differences

Obstructive sleep apnea causes disruptions to your breathing when your airway is compromised. Having a small jawbone, a deviated septum, or enlarged soft tissue (tongue, tonsils, etc.) contributes to airway obstructions. 

5. Being older

If you’re 40 or older, you’re at higher risk for sleep apnea, whether you’re female or male.

6. Underlying health conditions

About 60% of individuals with sleep apnea also have acid reflux disease. Acid reflux isn’t the only medical condition linked to sleep apnea. Sinus infections also increase your risk.

7. Family history 

If someone in your family has sleep apnea, you’re more likely to develop it too. If you have a family history (and/or other risk factors), it’s not too late to start making healthy life choices. For example, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking can help improve your odds.

What if you spot the signs of sleep apnea?

It’s important to remember that even if some of these risk factors apply to you, you may not develop sleep apnea. However, if you are at risk, it’s important to know the signs of sleep apnea so you can take the appropriate action. 

Common symptoms include:

If you suspect sleep apnea is disrupting your sleep, we can confirm your suspicions with the Planmeca® 3D X-ray machine. 

While CPAP machines are a common treatment for sleep apnea, they aren’t the only option. Dr. Palmieri may suggest a mandibular advancement device or, in severe cases, surgical mandibular advancements.

If you’re concerned about your risk factors for sleep apnea, call our Mooresville, North Carolina, office or book your appointment online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Why Would I Need a Root Canal?

A root canal often conjures fear, but the reality is that root canals are a needed 一 and thoroughly underappreciated 一 dental procedure. Read on to learn why you might need a root canal and how it can provide much-needed pain relief.

8 Problems That Veneers Correct

Veneers can turn a dull smile into a dazzling one! If you’re unhappy with the color, size, or shape of your teeth, veneers might be the solution you’ve been looking for. In this blog, we explore eight pesky problems that veneers can correct.

Understanding the Causes of Sleep Apnea

Snoring? Check. Unrefreshing sleep? Check. You might suspect you have sleep apnea when you notice the symptoms, but what’s causing it in the first place? In this blog, we explore the causes of sleep apnea and how we can help.

Reasons Why Invisalign Might Be Right for You

Are you thinking about braces? Metal braces aren’t your only option. The Invisalign® clear aligner system may deliver the orthodontic treatment you need without the discomfort. Read on to discover five reasons why Invisalign might be right for you.

The Many Uses for Botox

Botox® is a household name, but do you know that Botox has both medical and cosmetic uses? In this article, we share how Botox injections are used in a dental setting and how you can benefit from them.