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Who has Sleep Apnea?

OSA occurs as a result of certain physiological conditions such as:


• obesity

• facial disharmony (e.g. a retracted lower jaw)

• small mouth

• an enlarged tongue

• poor muscle tone

• orthodontics

• social factors such as excessive alcohol consumption


As an example, a person who is older, overweight and has a large tongue may suffer from sleep

apnea.  At night, during sleep, the back of the tongue compresses the airway in people with OSA,

thereby causing a total or partial air blockage.  Apnea sufferers experience periods of silence

because they aren’t breathing followed by a gasping noise when they try to start breathing again. 

This differs from snoring suffers who usually have a slow rhythmic constant noise.  Think of a chain



While the condition mainly occurs in adult males ages 49 and older, neck size, weight, ethnicity,

family history and sleep position are also contributing factors.


People with severe or moderate sleep apnea have more episodes when they sleep on their back. By learning to sleep on their right or left side patients are able to reduce these episodes.  Right side sleeping is preferable but either is better than sleeping on the back.


If you suffer from sleep apnea, your physician may initially recommend a change in lifestyle and diet. These changes may include: weight loss if you are overweight, adjusting your sleep position by sleeping on the side instead of the back, reducing your alcohol intake and use of sedatives.  If the condition persists despite these changes, your physician will recommend other treatment options.