What Are the Risks of Sleep Apnea?

The risks that can lead to an individual developing sleep apnea and increased health risks caused by sleep apnea are two of the most important aspects of the condition that everyone should be aware of. For adults, obesity has been found to be the most common cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This is likely due to an excessive amount of fat in the neck, or enlargement of the tongue and tonsils, which can add pressure to breathing passages. This additional pressure can ultimately narrow or even fully block the airways while sleeping. Other risk factors for developing sleep apnea include structural conditions such as a narrow airway (which can be hereditary), a thicker than average neck circumference, a family history of sleep apnea, smoking, and the use of alcohol, tranquilizers, or sedatives. Sleep apnea also appears to be more common in men, and among older adults. Men and older individuals are also at a greater risk for Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). A stroke, heart disorder, and/or the use of opioids and other narcotic pain medications have also been cited as risk factors for CSA.

The overall physical, mental, and emotional health risks that can be increased because of sleep apnea include:

  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Gastric reflux
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Problems with concentration
  • Loss of memory
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Unfortunately, this is by no means a complete list of the many risks associated with sleep apnea. The good news is, sleep apnea is a treatable condition for many individuals. With effective sleep apnea treatment, patients can significantly reduce these risks, attain a healthier night’s sleep, and improve their day-to-day lives.

    For more information on sleep apnea and the treatments available from Fulbright Snoring and Sleep Solutions, please contact us today.