It’s estimated that up to 18 million Americans experience sleep apnea, which can be a very dangerous condition if not adequately treated. To review, sleep apnea is a condition that consists of repeated stops in breathing as one sleeps. It can result in things like daytime sleepiness, headaches, acid reflux and more complicated health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

insomnia from sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a very treatable condition, but it’s always good to know whether or not you’re at a greater risk of developing the condition. With that being said, here’s a look at some common signs and symptoms that have been linked with the onset of sleep apnea.

Am I at Risk of Sleep Apnea?

  • Family history: If members of your family experience sleep apnea, you’re likely at a greater risk yourself.
  • Weight: Slim or average-sized people are much less likely to experience sleep apnea than overweight or obese people. In fact, obese people are up to four times the risk of average-sized individuals. That’s because excess fat deposits in the upper airway are more likely to obstruct breathing.
  • You’re a man: If you’re a man, you’re twice as likely to experience sleep apnea as you would if you were a woman.
  • You’re older: While sleep apnea can effect anyone – even children – it is most common in older people.
  • You smoke: Smoking doesn’t just have the tendency to cause inflammation in the upper airway, but it can also lead to fluid retention. Hence, smokers are three times as likely as non-smokers to experience sleep apnea. Sleep apnea from smoking often diminishes after quitting.
  • Thick necks: Another risk factor is having a thick neck. While this doesn’t apply to everyone with a thick neck, some who do may also have a narrower airway. Generally speaking, men who have a neck 17 inches in circumference and women who have a neck 15 inches in circumference are at greater risk.
  • Anatomical irregularities: Finally, there’s the matter of just being born with a narrow throat or with enlarged tonsils that can disrupt breathing as you sleep.

While the aforementioned are risk factors that can all lead to the onset of sleep apnea, it’s worth noting that you may not hit any of these criteria and still experience the condition. This is just a general guideline of common risk factors.

 As we noted previously, if you are at risk for sleep apnea – and think you may be exhibiting signs of the disorder (i.e. loud, persistent snoring, sleepiness during the daytime, etc.) – you want to see a professional for treatment immediately. While the CPAP is perhaps the best device associated with managing sleep apnea, many of those with more minor cases of it can eliminate its effects by wearing a specially fitted dental apparatus at night. These devices are designed to keep the jaw moved forward and the airway open.

For more information on sleep apnea, its risk factors, health effects and on oral appliance therapy to manage the condition, contact Kanehl Dental today.