Obstructive sleep apnea is garnering national and international attention, simply because it’s so prevalent. And this prevalence is continually increasing.
A recent study found that in the past two decades alone, the rates of obstructive sleep apnea has increased by 17% in females, and 34% in males. And this increase affects all ages and demographics. Even the younger generation (or adults and children under the age of 20) is seeing a noticeable uptick in this common condition. More kids and teens are being diagnosed with OSA than ever before – a prospect that was almost unheard of just a few decades ago.
So what is contributing to this national increase?
It’s a question both doctors and researchers have examined over the years as the numbers continue to grow. And there are a few key answers as to why obstructive sleep apnea is growing in prevalence, and notoriety.
Obesity is a big factor when it comes to a person’s risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea. And as obesity is on the rise across the county, so are the number of cases of OSA.
In fact, more than half of the people who are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea are either obese or overweight. What’s worse, each unit increase in your BMI is associated with a 14% increased risk of developing sleep apnea.
Obesity has been a growing problem for the last several decades, especially in children and young adults. So naturally the uptick in obesity helps to explain the corresponding uptick in obstructive sleep apnea as well.
Stress can have a huge role in the severity of your obstructive sleep apnea and your ability to sleep well. And in our modern age, stress is more prevalent than ever.
A large portion of the population does not get the recommended 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night. Consequently, the production of excess stress hormones can both increase a person’s risk for OSA and make the symptoms more severe.
Another big reason why there is more diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea is simply because of awareness.
OSA has garnered attention by doctors, researchers, and patients across the board, which makes it much easier to identify and diagnose.
Interestingly, this is actually a very good development. Because for many years, patients who reported feeling fatigued, sluggish, and moody were commonly misdiagnosed with psychological disorders, such as depression or anxiety. This was especially true for women, who were one of the most underdiagnosed demographics on the sleep apnea spectrum.
But today, with physicians realizing the prevalence of OSA, it’s much easier to get an accurate diagnosis for this common sleeping condition.
Obstructive sleep apnea may continue to rise across the country as awareness of other factors – like stress and obesity – rise as well.
But the good news is that once you get a diagnosis, treatment is a relatively easy endeavor. With the development of modern OSA treatments (like comfortable and easy-to-use oral devices), you can tackle your sleep apnea and start to sleep and feel better in no time at all.
If you are not getting quality sleep due to sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to contact us to see how we can help.