High blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and heart attack—these are all possible health effects of poorly controlled sleep apnea. This serious sleep disorder occurs when breathing stops and restarts in a cyclical fashion throughout the night. Often, patients don’t realize they have sleep apnea until their snoring prompts their sleep partner to make a doctor’s appointment. If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you should be aware that the following factors can make your condition worse.
Smoking cigarettes is one of the worst things you can do to your health and the health of the people around you, but quitting isn’t easy. If you need more motivation to quit, consider how smoking could be affecting your sleep apnea episodes. Each time you inhale a mouthful of smoke, the chemicals in the smoke irritate your upper airway, throat, soft palate, and all of the other oral and upper respiratory structures. Cigarette smoke causes these tissues to become inflamed and swollen. The swollen tissues will narrow the airways and can make sleep apnea worse.
If you often enjoy a nightcap before bed, you could be jeopardizing your quality of sleep and making your sleep apnea worse. Alcohol acts like a sedative on your muscles. It causes the throat and tongue muscles to relax, which increases the risk of airway obstruction.
If you’re a back sleeper, your partner is more likely to complain about frequent snoring. You’re also more likely to suffer repeated episodes of sleep apnea, since this position allows the tissues to obstruct the throat more easily. Instead, try sleeping on your side. If you unintentionally roll back over to your back in your sleep, try placing a bulky body pillow right next to you to prevent this from happening.
Overweight and obesity are significant risk factors of sleep apnea, and gaining more weight can make the symptoms worse. The more weight a person gains, the more extra tissues there are around the airway. During sleep, the muscles relax and threaten to block the airway. Being obese and sleeping on one’s back can create a perfect storm in which sleep apnea gets out of control.
What’s worse is that having uncontrolled sleep apnea can increase the risk of additional weight gain. This may be because sleep deprivation throws hormones out of balance, and some of those hormones affect one’s daytime appetite and cravings for unhealthy foods.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase your risk of serious health problems. Get your sleep apnea under control with help from the dentists at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry in Long Island, Suffolk County. We offer custom-fitted oral appliances that provide an effective alternative to CPAP therapy. Unlike CPAP therapy, oral appliances don’t require a mask, hose, or noisy equipment. It’s a safe, comfortable treatment option that will start working immediately. Call our dental office at 631-246-4992 to request an appointment with Dr. Nick or Dr. Elliot and discuss sleep apnea dental treatment on Long Island.
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