Can Sleep Apnea Develop Later in Life?
Sleep apnea is a chronic sleep disorder in which breathing temporarily ceases during sleep. When the brain senses the plummeting oxygen levels, it rouses the person from sleep and restarts breathing. Often, the patient is unaware that he or she stopped breathing and woke up. This cycle can happen dozens or even hundreds of times in one night, and the lower oxygen levels can lead to serious health problems. Patients with untreated sleep apnea may be at a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, for instance.
When Sleep Apnea Develops
There are several risk factors for developing sleep apnea, and one of them is age. People are at a higher risk of developing this condition when they reach their 40th birthday, although it can develop earlier. However, some patients may not develop this disorder until they reach their senior years. Some research suggests that seniors over the age of 60 have a much higher risk of developing sleep apnea.
How Older Adults Can Reduce the Risk
Age-related sleep apnea may be influenced by the weakening muscles and a collapse-prone airway later in life. Plus, it’s thought that the communication between the brain and the upper airway isn’t quite as effective in a person’s senior years. While there may be nothing that patients can do about that, there are other ways of reducing the risk of sleep apnea. One of the most significant risk factors of this condition is weight. It’s important for seniors to eat a healthy, low-calorie diet and to enjoy safe exercise on a daily or almost-daily basis.
What Symptoms to Watch Out For
Older adults and their caregivers should be on the lookout for possible signs of sleep apnea. They can include the following:
- Loud, excessive snoring
- Snorting or choking noises during sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth
- Sudden decline in cognitive function
- Poorly controlled blood pressure
For safe and effective sleep apnea treatment at any stage in life, you can turn to the dental office of John R. Carson, DDS. Dr. Carson partners with his patients physicians ensure the best possible treatment following the AADSM and AASM guidelines. Untreated sleep apnea can increase the risk of serious health complications, so don’t delay visiting our Tucson practice. You can reach a friendly team member at (520) 514-7203.