November, or Movember, is a month to educate people about men’s health issues. Some of the most easily diagnosed disorders in men are also some of the most ignored health conditions. Topping the list is Sleep Apnea. Research suggests that one in three men may be suffering from this disorder.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly starts and stops throughout the night. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain, and the rest of the body, may not get enough oxygen.
What are the Risk Factors?
Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, even children. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:
- Being male
- Being overweight
- Being over age 40
- Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
- Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
- Having a family history of sleep apnea
- Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
- Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems
What Are the Effects of Sleep Apnea?
If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
- Worsening of ADHD
Common sleep apnea symptoms
- Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
- Loud snoring
- Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
- Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
- Sleepiness while driving
- Morning headaches
- Restless sleep
- Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex
- Recurrent awakenings or insomnia
There are many different treatment options for sleep apnea. If you think you may have sleep apnea it’s best to discuss your symptoms and treatment options with your physician.
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