Sleep apnea and snoring are very often blamed on being overweight and the main advice doctors give is to try to lose weight. But according to a new study published study in the journal Clinical Imaging, this may not always be the case. In fact it may have more to do with something that happened when you were born, which is of course completely out of your control.
The good news is that you can still cure your snoring and sleep apnea without having to lose weight.
The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to compare the airways of 49 preterm and 47 term infants. While they found no difference in the sizes of the hypopharynx (the entrance into the esophagus), the adenoids, or the tonsils, they did discover that the two groups differed in nasopharynx and oropharynx size. Your nasopharynx and oropharynx lie in your upper airway, between the back of your mouth and the area just above your esophagus.
On average, preterm babies had a nasopharynx size of 221 mm compared to the 495.6 mm of term babies, which means they were less than half of the size. The oropharynx of preterm babies were 179.3 mm while those of term babies measured 313.6 mm, again a huge difference. While they did not test for the existence of sleep apnea, which infants of that size would probably not have had yet anyway, they concluded that these smaller airway measurements had the potential to cause sleep apnea later in life.
So if you were born preterm, this may very well contribute to your snoring and sleep apnea.