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Sleep Apnea and That Sound Your Husband Makes: What It Says About His Health

A woman plugging her ears and man snoring in bedSleep apnea is a potentially serious medical disorder that affects between 50 and 70 million adults in the United States. Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing is repeatedly blocked during sleep. Blockage of the airway causes snoring, and if severe, can cause low oxygen, elevated blood pressure and damage to the brain and heart over time. Sleepiness, fatigue, depression, and loss of sexual drive can also result. If your loved one snores and feels tired or sleepy after a full night’s rest, he may be suffering from sleep apnea.

Common symptoms of sleep apnea

Many factors can lead to Sleep Apnea and snoring including excess weight, problems with a small air passage and receding jaw or other problems with the airway. Excess weight is commonly associated with sleep apnea and that snoring sound. When an overweight or obese person is sleeping, his or her throat and tongue muscles become more relaxed, closing off the upper passages of their airway.

Loud, repetitive snoring isn’t only a nuisance, it’s one of the main indicators of sleep apnea. Here are three main indicators of obstructive sleep apnea:

  1. Loud, persistent snoring
  2. Pauses in breathing, along with gasping attacks while sleeping
  3. Excessive sleepiness while awake
  4. Morning headaches
  5. Difficulty paying attention
  6. Irritability
  7. Auto Accidents

It is important to note that many people who snore do not have obstructive sleep apnea, however most people who do have sleep apnea, snore.

Common risk factors of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is often a byproduct of other health factors, including:

  • Excess weight
    Fat deposits in and around the upper airway may obstruct breathing
  • Neck circumference
    Surprisingly, those with thicker necks may have narrower airways
  • Narrow airway
    Narrow throat, enlarged tonsils or adenoids may also block the throat
  • Gender
    Men are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnea than women before menopause. After menopause women are as likely as men to suffer from Sleep Apnea
  • Age
    This disorder is most common in older adults
  • Genetics
    A family history of sleep apnea may increase your risk
  • Alcohol or drug use
    These substances relax the throat muscles, which can worsen obstructive sleep apnea
  • Smoking
    Smokers are three times more likely to struggle with sleep apnea

If you think your husband or anyone else in your family is struggling with sleep apnea or snoring, contact Pomona Valley Health Centers at 909-536-1493. We can conduct a sleep evaluation and test, help treat underlying conditions and help you both rest more peacefully.