Health Tip: Do You Have Sleep Apnea?

Suggestions to minimize risk

(HealthDay News) -- Have you been told that you snore loudly? Do you wake up feeling tired after a full night's sleep? If so, you may have sleep apnea. This potentially serious sleep disorder occurs when breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.

About 18 million Americans have sleep apnea. It occurs two to three times more often in older adults, and is twice as common in men as in women. Treatment may involve using a device to keep your airways open or undergoing a procedure to remove tissue from your nose, mouth or throat.

Here are some self-care tips from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Lose excess weight. Even a slight weight loss may help relieve constriction of your throat.
  • Avoid alcohol and medications such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills. These relax the muscles in the back of your throat, interfering with breathing.
  • Sleep on your side or stomach rather than on your back. Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft palate to rest against the back of your throat and block your airway. To prevent sleeping on your back, try sewing a tennis ball in the back of your pajama top.
  • Keep your nasal passages open at night. Using a nasal decongestant or antihistamine may help.
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