Sleep apnea is a common and very serious disorder that happens when regular breathing is interrupted during sleep. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea, a chronic disease that involves the repeated collapse of the upper airway during sleep.
Common warning signs include snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness. Factors that may increase your risk of sleep apnea include:
- Over 40
- Large tonsils, large tongue, or small jaw
- Family history of sleep apnea
- Physical abnormality, such as a deviated septum
- Allergies or sinus problems
- Smoking – which can cause inflammation, swelling, and narrowing of the upper airway
While previous research has established that severe sleep apnea increases the risk of hypertension and diabetes, data regarding mild to moderate sleep apnea were unclear. Sleep apnea can be treated. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, be sure to speak with your physician or dentist for more information and evaluation.