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Why Smokers Need to Worry About Sleep Apnea

Not being able to wake up feeling rested is bad enough but your habits can also make it worse as shown through data linking between sleep apnea and smokers.  Kicking the habit is easier said than done so it pays to know how your smoking is affecting your sleep and if there’s anything you can do about it.


Living on the edge

It’s no secret that smoking affects your ability to breathe.  It’s why you don’t see many Olympians going through a pack a day or try to ignore all the scary labels on a carton.  What most smokers don’t realize is that your breathing can become just as strained while you sleep if not more.

There’s no question that statistics on links between smoking and sleep apnea have made it clear that smoking can triple your risk.  The real question is how it affects your nocturnal breathing.


Cigarette smoke itself is an irritant and these irritants can do damage to your throat.  Over time, the airway narrows.  When sleep apnea occurs it’s because your body thinks it can’t breathe because of a small airway, waking you up for a second before letting you go back to sleep, kind of like flicking a light switch.  The damage and narrowing of the airway allows this to happen more easily.

The irritation isn’t the only reason.  Your throat will eventually begin to retain fluid and become inflamed closing it further.  A closed airway and higher chance of sleep apnea is one thing but most smokers don’t realize that there are other side effects that are far more dangerous.  They just take a while to show up.

Mounting threat

There are many additional risks to sleep apnea on top of not getting a restful sleep.  Among them is a growing amount of “gunk” or “stickiness” in the cells that line your blood vessels leading to them becoming blocked.

Smoking is also a known cause of this buildup and the two together seem to accelerate the onset of blocked arteries.  This may take some time but eventually, your risk of heart attack or stroke is exponentially higher than it would’ve been had you not had sleep apnea, smoked or both.

That might seem like a whole lot of doom and gloom but knowing there’s a trap is the first step in avoiding it.  Luckily, there are doctors who specialize in this sort of thing.

Clearing the air

Ear, nose and throat doctors or ENTs are experts who have a lot of experience dealing with sleep apnea.  They can provide diagnostics and analysis that can figure out the specific kind of sleep apnea you have and the severity.

At Houston Sinus & Allergy, we assess patients for the severity of their condition, and determine a treatment. Book an assessment with our experienced ENT, Dr. Nguyen, and start feeling better.


Sleep apnea and smokers need all the help they can get and so finding an ENT should be your first priority.  They can help you take it from there whether you’re ready to kick the habit or not.

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