Sleep apnea is a somewhat mysterious condition. While doctors such as Dr. Volpi at eos Sleep are experts in all facets of this serious condition, most people know little about it. Many people assume it’s just a little snoring and nothing to worry about. But when it involves sleep apnea, that’s way beyond normal occasional snoring.
At eos Sleep, snoring and sleep apnea treatment is all we do. In this month’s blog, let’s look at why some people develop sleep apnea and if there are any ways to prevent it.
Who’s more likely to develop sleep apnea?
Certain factors play a role in a person’s being more likely to develop sleep apnea, being a man, for instance. These are risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea:
- Neck circumference — People with thicker necks often have narrower airways (men 17 inches and larger, women 15 inches and larger).
- Obesity — Obese people have four times the risk of sleep apnea. Fat deposits around the upper airway can add to obstruction.
- Narrowed airway — Some people simply have a naturally narrow throat or have enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
- Men — Men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea.
- Age — Sleep apnea is more common in older adults.
- Family history — Sleep apnea runs in families.
- Smoking — Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea.
- Alcohol or sedatives — These substances relax the throat muscles.
Are there ways I can prevent or stop sleep apnea without formal treatment?
For some potential sufferers from sleep apnea, making a few lifestyle changes may allow you to head off developing the condition. Here are some prevention strategies:
- Lose weight — Even a slight weight loss can relieve constriction in your throat. Getting to your ideal, healthy weight may be all you need to do to open up your airway.
- Exercise — Moderate activity, such as brisk walking, for 30 minutes a day can relieve some symptoms.
- Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers — These all relax the muscles in the back of the throat, allowing the sagging that leads to sleep apnea.
- Sleep on your side or abdomen, not your back — Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft palate to rest against the back of your throat, blocking your airway. There are some commercial devices that vibrate when you roll onto your back in sleep.
- Don’t smoke — As mentioned above, smokers are three times more likely to have OSA.
If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, please call us at eos Sleep, (212) 873-6036, and schedule an appointment with Dr. Volpi.