3 Modifiable Risk Factors For Sleep Apnea


If you snore, you may be at risk for developing sleep apnea; this can heighten your risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and extreme daytime sleepiness. Episodes of sleep apnea can cause you to stop breathing for short periods of time when you sleep, and may even raise your risk for an abnormal heartbeat.

If you snore, experience daytime sleepiness, or do not feel refreshed after a good night's sleep; your physician may recommend that you consider snoring surgery. Here are three risk factors for sleep apnea and how you can modify them to help lower your risk of complications while you are awaiting your sleep study or snoring surgery:


Being overweight is a modifiable risk factor for sleep apnea and snoring. When you carry excess weight around your neck or abdomen, your breathing can become compromised; this can lead to airway obstruction and pressure on your diaphragm.

If you lose weight, your breathing pattern may improve, reducing the frequency and severity of your apnea episodes. You may also notice that you are more alert during the day and have more energy. If you are unable to lose weight on your own, talk to your health care provider who will recommend weight loss strategies applicable to your personal situation. 

Acid Reflux

Frequent heartburn or acid reflux can also raise your risk for snoring and apnea. Acid reflux disease refers to when stomach acid travels into your esophagus and sometimes, your throat. Stomach acid is extremely irritating to your pharynx and airway, and can cause breathing problems when you sleep.

Acid reflux may also lead to wheezing and a "twitchy airway," both potential risk factors in the development of sleep apnea. To lower your risk of acid reflux, sleep with the head of your bed elevated. In addition to helping keep stomach acid from reaching your esophagus, sleeping with the head of your bed elevated may also help prevent snoring. 

Alcohol Consumption

Drinking alcohol, especially before you go to sleep, can relax the muscles in your tongue; this can cause your tongue to slip back into your throat, blocking your airway. When your airway is obstructed, sleep apnea and snoring can occur. You may also develop periods of breathing cessation when your muscles become too relaxed.

If you drink before bed, try sleeping on your side to help prevent airway obstruction. Alcohol consumption may also cause heartburn and acid reflux episodes which may also aggravate your sleep apnea condition. 

If you have sleep apnea, make an appointment with an ENT specialist for further evaluation and treatment. He or she may recommend that you undergo a hospital-based sleep study to help determine the severity of your sleep apnea. If it is severe, snoring surgery may be recommended to help alleviate your symptoms.   


21 May 2018

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