Are You at Risk For Sleep Apnea?

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Your husband or wife may have complained about your snoring and you probably just brushed it off.  Unfortunately, your snoring could be a sign of something serious.  While listening to someone saw logs all night when you’re trying to sleep can be annoying, it can also be letting you know that your partner may be suffering from sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a harmful sleep disorder that causes people to stop breathing while they sleep.  This can happen hundreds of times each night.  The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat collapse causing obstructed breathing.  Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, but there are many other symptoms of this disorder.  Check out these things that could put you at risk for sleep apnea:

Obesity

One of the most common risk factors for sleep apnea is being overweight or obese.  Individuals who are obese are seven times more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea than individuals who are not overweight.  Carrying around some extra pounds can put extra pressure on the upper airway passage.  Being obese puts you at greater risk for difficulty breathing at night during sleep.

Alcohol Use

If you enjoy a few alcoholic beverages before bedtime, you may be putting yourself at risk for obstructive sleep apnea.  Alcohol is a muscle relaxant which can lead to episodes of sleep apnea.  For those that already suffer from sleep apnea, alcohol can extend the duration of apnea episodes, putting them at a greater health risk.

Smoking

Those who smoke are two and a half times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than their non-smoking counterparts.  Smoking can make the tissue in your airways swell because it irritates the tissue.  Smoking can also cause swelling in the nose and throat, which further minimizes the space for air to flow through.

Family History

Sleep apnea itself may not be genetic, but the physical makeup of your body may increase your risk for sleep apnea.  Those with larger neck circumferences have a higher risk.  Men with a neck circumference over 17 inches, and women greater than 15 inches puts them at higher risk to suffer from disrupted breathing during sleep.  The size of your neck may be inherited through your family, causing your breathing problems at night.

Age

Although sleep apnea is not discriminating of age, it tends to affect older people more than younger people.  As we age, the elasticity and tone throughout our body tends to deteriorate leaving us open to suffer from sleep apnea.  The natural softening of throat tissue can lead to collapse which causes obstructive sleep apnea.

 

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

Story Credit

Image Credit: vader by sudobeer.  Used under a creative commons license.

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