When you have sleep apnea, naturally you want to do everything you can to make your sleep apnea better, not worse. This may include treatment options such as sleep orthotics or CPAP therapy, or it can include lifestyle changes that may not eliminate symptoms altogether, but that can seriously reduce them.
For those looking to make positive changes to their lives and improve their sleep apnea symptoms, here are a few things that can make sleep apnea symptoms worse, and some solutions.
Your weight affects many systems of the body, including your airway. This is especially true when you are lying down, because the reclining position can put pressure on your airway, causing an obstruction. Hence, obstructive sleep apnea. The obstruction can come in the form of extra pressure due to wider neck circumference and due to what researchers call “fatty tongue”, where a thicker tongue due to excess fat can cause the airway to become obstructed during sleep. If you are obese or overweight, speak to your doctor about beginning a safe weight loss program.
Unfortunately, as bad as it already is, COVID-19 also makes sleep apnea symptoms worse. This is why it is essential for those with sleep apnea to take this virus very seriously and do whatever they can to help avoid contracting it. COVID-19 causes breathing trouble, as does sleep apnea, and the two can make for a very dangerous combination.
There are some things that we can’t control that cause sleep apnea, such as our anatomy. People can be born with deviated septums, small airways, or have enlarged tonsils, all of which can contribute to obstructive sleep apnea. It may be in your best interest to correct your septum or have your tonsils removed if they are causing difficulty breathing.
Smoking dangers are no secret, but did you know that smoking can also worsen obstructive sleep apnea symptoms? That’s because smoking can cause conditions like COPD and Asthma, and can cause irritation to the upper airway, all of which can make it difficult to breathe. The obvious solution is to quit smoking. It’s good for your entire body, and can definitely improve sleep apnea symptoms.
Drinking alcohol before bed loosens the muscles, which can cause the airway to relax, too. This in turn can worsen some of the difficulty breathing caused by obstructive sleep apnea. If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, consider spacing your last drink of the evening well before bedtime so your airway is less relaxed.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, Dr. Mingus can help. Schedule a consultation today to discuss your treatment options!