The cause and risk factors associated with sleep apnea

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Sleep apnea can affect anyone. Although it tends to be found more in adults, it is not gender specific and in fact, it has even been found in children. Of course, some of us, due to certain factors, are more at risk than others. These factors change, depending on the type of sleep apnea, either obstructive or central.


Obstructive sleep apnea risk factors


The following are considered as high-risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea.

  • Overweight, even by a small margin
  • Males tend to suffer from this form of the disorder more than females
  • If someone you are related to suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, chances are, you may suffer from it as well.
  • 50 years or older
  • Form part of the following race groups: Black, Hispanic or Pacific Islander
  • Someone who smokes
  • Someone who suffers from high blood pressure
  • People with necks thicker than 15.75 inches tend to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea risk factors


This form of sleep apnea is far more common in males of all race groups, especially those over the age of 65. It should be treated as quickly as possible as it is associated with more serious health problems. These include:

  • Strokes
  • Heart disease
  • Neurological diseases
  • Brainstem injuries
  • Spinal problems or injuries

Lifestyle changes that can help improve sleep apnea


Although medical treatment for any of the three forms of sleep apnea is imperative, there are a number of things a sufferer can do by themselves to help them fight the disorder, improving sleep and ultimately, their health. This mostly involves a number of critical lifestyle changes.


  • Weight loss

For those who are overweight, even by a small amount, sleep apnea can be a problem. For the obese, sleep apnea is a way of life. Overweight people have throats that tend to have more tissue situated towards the back. When lying in certain positions, such as on their back, this can fall over their airway, blocking it. Of course, this stops the flow of air into the lungs and leads to them waking up. By losing weight, this extra tissue can disappear.


  • Give up smoking

Smoking causes inflammation in the throat area. It also leads to our bodies retaining fluid around the throat and near the upper airway, all which doctors believe can contribute towards the disorder.


  • Cut out alcohol

Try to cut out alcohol, especially in the evenings. Because of its sedative nature, alcohol will relax muscles in the throat area and this can interfere with correct breathing procedures. In fact, other sedatives such as sleeping pills should be avoided as well.


  • Exercise


Not only will exercise help you to lose weight, but it is the perfect way to improve the quality of your sleep. Consider yoga to help strengthen your muscles, even in your airways which, in turn, will help with breathing while you sleep.


  • Avoid late eating and caffeine


Sleeping on a full stomach can lead to broken sleep while caffeine is a stimulant which can also affect sleep patterns.


Although it is imperative that you see a doctor should you have any of the symptoms of sleep apnea, you can help improve the disorder by following these simple tips.

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