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What makes sleep apnea worse?

Although your genetics may make it more likely for you to get OSA, a number of things make OSA worse in some people.

Obesity: Being overweight is one of the largest risk factors for OSA. Although all family members may share the genetic risk of OSA, overweight people are much more likely to suffer from it.

Alcohol or Sedative UseBoth of these chemicals cause muscle relaxation resulting in the narrowing and collapse of the muscles around the throat at night.

SmokingSmokers are more likely to suffer from OSA, because smoking irritates the upper airway and causes inflammation.

Hormone ImbalanceLow thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) increases the risk for OSA. Hypothyroidism shares many symptoms of sleep apnea, and is similarly under-diagnosed. Symptoms include daytime sleepiness and fatigue, weight gain, nighttime snoring, and depression.

Other Medical ConditionsOther medical conditions such as nasal congestion and seasonal allergies can block airflow through the upper airway, which increases the risk for developing OSA.

Other MedicationsAlthough sleep apnea can result in high blood pressure (hypertension), some anti-hypertensive drugs can cause sleep apnea. Similarly, several other drug families have been linked to disrupted sleep, which increases the risk for sleep apnea (e.g. long-acting benzodiazepines, beta-blockers and theophylline).

Posted in: Sleep Apnea