Who is at risk for sleep apnea?


photodune-5766010-sleeping-xs-300x300Sleep apnea is a condition in which people stop breathing repeatedly while asleep because the airway’s opening is obstructed. A number of risk factors are associated with this condition, which appears to have some correlation with some serious health problems, like stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Knowing your risk may help you either prevent or know when to seek treatment for this issue.

Men face a greater risk of sleep apnea than women do, and you have an increasing likelihood of developing the condition as you get older. Structural issues like excess soft tissue at the rear of the throat or smaller airways or nasal passages also can make people more susceptible to sleep apnea. Family history of the condition also can be a factor, as can smoking.

Effective treatments are available for sleep apnea, and our oral surgeons can help you sort through the various interventions to determine which one would be most effective for you. However, patients must first consult with a sleep specialist to get a conclusive diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, as these treatments will be ineffective for other types of apnea or other conditions entirely.

Many patients will start with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) appliance, which is highly effective and non-invasive. If you’ve tried a CPAP and gotten no relief from your apnea, our oral surgery team may recommend a surgical intervention to address the structural conditions that cause the airway obstruction. This may involve removing excess soft tissue or repositioning the jaw, for example.

Many patients are not even aware that they have sleep apnea, although some may experience symptoms like daytime drowsiness, difficulty concentrating and frequent sore throats and/or headaches upon waking. A sleeping partner may also alert the person to loud snoring and noticeable pauses in breathing throughout the night.

If you have characteristics that place you at an increased risk for sleep apnea, be alert for these symptoms and follow up as appropriate to obtain a diagnosis and treatment. Contact our office and consult with one of our expert practitioners to learn about your options. Your overall well-being will benefit tremendously.