Obstructive sleep apnea has varying degrees of severity. Some individuals have mild symptoms that are easy to manage, while others constantly struggle to feel well-rested. If you are in the latter group, you should be aware of factors that could be worsening your condition. This blog post discusses some things that can exacerbate sleep apnea; some of them are within your power to change!
Excess amounts of fat around the neck and abdomen can put pressure on your airway, leading to an increase in sleep apnea symptoms. It would be wise to take reasonable measures to control your weight, such as sticking to a balanced diet and exercise plan. Even modest weight loss may have beneficial effects for the quality of your sleep.
Gravity can work against you if you tend to sleep on your back. Your tongue and other oral structures may shift backward and contribute to airway blockages. Experts generally recommend that individuals with sleep apnea sleep on their side.
Smoking can cause inflammation and irritation in the airway, which can increase snoring and other sleep apnea symptoms. If you smoke, it is extremely advisable for you to make attempts to kick the habit; your primary care practitioner may have some suggestions to help you out.
Not Complying with Sleep Apnea Treatment
A CPAP machine is the most commonly prescribed treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Sadly, many people dislike their machine and do not use it as often as they should. If that is true of you, you may need to consider alternative treatments, such as an oral appliance from a dentist.
If you sometimes drink a glass of wine before bed, you might inadvertently be worsening your sleep apnea. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it can cause your entire body to relax, including the muscles in your airway. This can increase sleep apnea symptoms. If you choose to drink, you should have your last sip a few hours before bedtime.
Just like alcohol, some medications can cause your body to overrelax, leading to problems with breathing during sleep. Some painkillers (especially opioids), muscle relaxants, and even sleep aids all fall into this category.
Older adults are at an increased risk of sleep apnea due to the natural loss of muscle tone that occurs over time, as well as other issues that come with increasing age. While you cannot turn back the clock, doing your best to manage your overall health may be a key to enjoying restful sleep each night.
Meet the Practice
Dr. Rob Schumacher is a talented, highly accomplished dentist with more than 14 years of experience in his profession. He strives to help patients find freedom from obstructive sleep apnea via oral appliance therapy. If you have been struggling to feel well-rested, he and our team would be happy to learn about your case and recommend your next steps. Get in touch with our Wakefield, MA, office at 781-334-3400.