Not all sleep disorders are obvious to the one who experiences them. For instance, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can deprive you of deep, restful sleep even if you don’t realize what’s happening. What typically hints at the condition is the loud, distinct snoring pattern that often marks its presence. Yet, patients who are not disturbed by the snoring may not realize that they should seek treatment for it.
Obstructive sleep apnea means your airway becomes clogged by oral tissues as you sleep, causing increasingly-loud snoring until the airway closes completely and you stop breathing. The nature of sleep apnea makes it a significant risk factor in a variety of systemic health issues.
Common Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
OSA can be caused by one or any combination of factors, which defer from patient to patient. Some of the more common risk factors for sleep apnea can include;
- Being overweight
- Excessive alcohol consumption (which can cause tissues to over-relax)
- Genetic predisposition (if you have older family members with OSA)
- Having abnormally-sized oral tissues (i.e., base of the tongue, tonsils, etc.)
- Chronic nasal congestion
- And more
If you don’t exhibit any of these risk factors, but find yourself exhausted, fatigued, and suffering symptoms of sleep deprivation, then you should still schedule an examination with your dentist as soon as possible.
Health Risks Associated with Sleep Apnea
In a single night, OSA can cause you to stop breathing hundreds of times a night, each time forcing your body to wake up enough to clear its airway and start breathing again. Because the condition can deprive you of sleep and adequate oxygen, sleep apnea can increase your risks of a number of systemic health issues, including hypertension and various cardiovascular diseases.