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OSA and Long COVID Risk

Dr Martin Abelar - May 29, 2023 - 0 comments

If you were one of the unfortunate ones who contracted COVID-19 in the past few years, it could be causing lingering medical problems. Known as long COVID, the illness can cause prolonged coughing and other symptoms that can take weeks or even months to go away, long after the patient tests negative for COVID-19.

So, who’s at risk for long COVID? Well, according to a new study, persons with OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) are at a 75 percent higher risk of developing long COVID than those who do not have OSA.

While there is no definitive reason for this, researchers presume it is due to the fact that many people who have obstructive sleep apnea already have comorbid conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These health issues could also be increasing the patient’s risk of developing long COVID.

The numbers are grim, with women with OSA having an 89 percent risk of developing long COVID and men having a 59 percent higher risk of developing the illness.

While the study was careful to analyze data from 1.8 million COVID patients, it did not mention if treating sleep apnea reduced the risks of developing long COVID, or lessened its severity.

Preventing Long Covid

While it is impossible to prevent long COVID if you’ve already contracted COVID-19, it is possible to prevent a severe COVID-19 infection.

To do this, it is still recommended that you follow COVID-19 prevention best practices. Wash hands frequently, cover your face with a mask when necessary, and get your COVID-19 vaccine and boosters.

Treating Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can be treated with several methods, however Dr. Abelar recommends a sleep orthotic over other means. This is because a sleep orthotic is more comfortable than other methods such as CPAP, and as a result will likely be used more often. Furthermore, because orthotic devices are easier to care for, they can reduce the risk of germs, and can help lessen your risk of contracting COVID-19 by not trapping germs in the air tube.

To learn more about orthotic sleep devices for your obstructive sleep apnea, contact Dr. Abelar’s office today!

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