How to Reduce Your Risk of Sleep Apnea

People with sleep apnea repeatedly stop and restart their breathing while they sleep. Often, they’re unaware they are waking up dozens of times each night. If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk of serious complications, including heart disease and diabetes. Fortunately, it’s possible to treat many cases of sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy from a dentist. In addition, many people are able to lower their risk of developing sleep apnea, such as by taking the following precautions.

Losing Weight

Overweight and obesity are major risk factors of obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, according to Harvard Medical School, about two-thirds of patients with this sleep disorder are overweight or obese. Extra pounds increase the risk because the excess fat deposits can obstruct the airway. If you’re overweight, getting back to a healthy weight range can manage your risk of sleep apnea. Your primary care physician is an excellent source of personalized guidance regarding weight loss. Talk to your doctor about your meal plan, activity level, and habits, and develop a plan to lose weight in a healthy manner.

Quitting Smoking

Not only does smoking increase your risk of oral cancer and premature death, it also raises the risk of sleep apnea. And in patients who already have sleep apnea, smoking can make the condition worse. It’s thought that smoking contributes to this sleep disorder by causing upper airway inflammation, relaxing the upper airway muscles, and affecting neural reflexes. It’s definitely challenging to overcome an addiction to nicotine. Many smokers try to quit dozens of times before they finally succeed. The key is to never give up. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation options.

Treating Chronic Nasal Congestion

People with chronic nasal congestion are more likely to develop sleep apnea, probably because of the narrowing of the airway. This condition can be caused by underlying problems, like nasal polyps, an infection, allergies, or a deviated septum. Patients who suffer from chronic nasal congestion can talk to their doctors about a treatment plan to improve their quality of life and reduce their risk of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea treatment is one of our specialties here at the dental office of John R. Carson, DDS. We provide Tucson-area sleep apnea patients with gentle and effective oral appliances that keep the airway open during sleep. To request a consultation with our dentist, call (520) 514-7203.

 

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