When it comes to sleep apnea, there’s good news and bad news: The bad news is that an estimated 1 out of every 4 adults in the U.S. has it. The good news is that there are simple and effective treatments that greatly minimize its impact on your health and quality of life. But, although so many people have sleep apnea, it’s still common to have questions such as what the risk factors are and whether it can get worse with time. In this blog, you’ll get answers to those questions and find out more about the many options for treatment and how they can help you.
What Are the Risk Factors For Sleep Apnea?
Below are some of the most common risk factors for sleep apnea. However, it’s important to note that you can still have it, even when none of these factors are present:
- Family history
- Physical anatomy such as a large neck, tongue, or tonsils
- Nasal blockages, polyps, or allergies
- Eating or drinking too close to bedtime
- A deviated septum.
- Age and gender (men are more likely to develop sleep apnea than women)
Can Sleep Apnea Get Worse With Time?
Unfortunately, sleep apnea can progress over time. If any of the risk factors listed above change, it can subsequently worsen your symptoms. For example, if you have allergies that flare up in the springtime, you may notice increased signs of sleep apnea such as more daytime fatigue or irritability.
Or, since sleep apnea tends to naturally progress with age, you may simply notice additional symptoms with the passage of time.
How You Can Prevent Sleep Apnea From Getting Worse?
For many years, the only sleep apnea treatments were surgery or a CPAP machine. Fortunately, treatment options have changed tremendously. Now, you can halt the progression of sleep apnea with an oral appliance that’s much easier to tolerate and also very effective. There are many different types of these lightweight, portable appliances, all of which open your airway at night to allow for better breathing.
An experienced sleep dentist will spend time targeting the specific cause of your sleep apnea so they can recommend the absolute best type of appliance for your needs. In moderate to severe cases, they may recommend combined therapy in which an oral appliance is used along with a CPAP machine. This makes the use of a CPAP much more comfortable and also more effective.
With the right type of therapy, you can prevent your sleep apnea from getting worse and enjoy the many benefits of deeper, more restful sleep each night.
About the Author
Dr. Kent Smith is a sleep dentist and highly-respected leader in his field. As the President of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy, he’s passionate about helping people find relief from the negative consequences of this common condition. If you think your sleep apnea may be getting worse or you have any questions, he can be reached via his website.