Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects breathing during sleep. It can lead to fatigue, daytime sleepiness, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
It can also negatively impact cognitive function, mood, and relationships, reducing overall quality of life.
Treatment options like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy can help alleviate symptoms and improve health. However, there are alternative, potentially better treatments we’ll mention later in this guide, too.
Sleep apnea is more common in older adults, but it can affect people of all ages, including children. We’ll touch on that more later, as well. For now, let’s dive into our main topic: age affecting sleep apnea.
Does Age Affect Sleep Apnea?
Firstly, age does affect the prevalence and severity of sleep apnea. It’s less severe but far more common in the elderly. That’s because as people age, their airways may narrow. In addition, muscle tone may decrease.
As a result, they may be more likely to develop medical conditions that increase the risk of sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Older Adults
Some common symptoms of sleep apnea, especially in older adults, include snoring, daytime fatigue, and morning headaches. Pauses in breath, gasping, or choking during sleep are also common symptoms.
Likewise, some adults might experience trouble concentrating, memory problems, and mood changes like irritability or depression. Restless sleep and insomnia are also additional symptoms.
It’s important to note that not all older adults with sleep apnea will experience all of these symptoms. In fact, some may not snore at all. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, speak with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis.
These symptoms can affect a patient’s quality of life and increase the risk of accidents, as well as other health problems. It’s important to utilize a treatment option that works for you, though.
Treatment Options for Older Adults with Sleep Apnea
Besides the more common CPAP machines for sleep apnea, there are other beneficial alternatives to consider.
- Effectively changing your lifestyle is a worthwhile treatment option to consider. It must often be paired to be truly successful, however.
- Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) are custom-made medical devices used to treat sleep apnea, snoring, and teeth grinding. They work by positioning the jaw in a way that keeps the airway open. In turn, that reduces the severity of sleep-related breathing disorders.
Benefits of OAT Machines
One of the main benefits of OAT is their effectiveness in treating mild to moderate sleep apnea. They’re an alternative to CPAP therapy, which some patients find uncomfortable or inconvenient. Overall, they can improve sleep quality, reduce daytime sleepiness, and decrease the risk of long-term health problems from sleep apnea.
Oral appliance therapies can also effectively reduce snoring, a common symptom of sleep apnea. They work by repositioning the jaw, which prevents the tongue and soft tissues from collapsing and blocking the airway during sleep.
Rare Pediatric Sleep Apnea
Pediatric sleep apnea and adult sleep apnea differ in several ways, including causes, symptoms, and treatment options. It’s also relatively rare but can have serious consequences if left untreated.
One major difference is the underlying causes of sleep apnea in each group. In adults, sleep apnea is most commonly caused by excess weight, obesity, and anatomical issues such as enlarged tonsils or a deviated septum. However, in children, the most common cause of sleep apnea is enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
The symptoms of sleep apnea in children can also differ from those in adults. Adults typically experience loud snoring, pauses in breathing, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Meanwhile, children may exhibit symptoms such as bedwetting, restless sleep, or behavioral problems.
Another difference between pediatric and adult sleep apnea is the treatment options available. CPAP therapy isn’t recommended for children. It’s one of the reasons we recommend oral appliance therapy instead. In addition to lifestyle changes, it can be the effective treatment one needs.
Wrapping Up: Age Affecting Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects breathing during sleep – and it can affect all ages. If left untreated, it can lead to potentially serious consequences for some patients. Fortunately, there are some viable treatment options, like OAT, which can alleviate symptoms and improve health.
Recognizing and treating sleep apnea is crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being. Want to learn more about sleep apnea and its treatment options? Be sure to take an assessment today!