Beautiful young female doctor analyzing an x-ray image

A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that sleep apnea sufferers are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia than those without the sleep disorder.

The study looked at data of over 340,000 patients, spanning over 11 years. Within the group, 7,000 had diagnosed sleep apnea, while 27,000 were confirmed to not have sleep apnea. Among those with sleep apnea, 9.36 percent developed pneumonia, compared to 7.77 percent of the control group.

It is important to note that the researchers acknowledged that the patients who had developed pneumonia were often older or had other illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease or dementia, which could also have an impact on the likelihood of developing pneumonia.

Because sleep apnea occurs when the upper airways are obstructed during sleep, the popular hypothesis is that people who suffer from sleep apnea are also more likely to breath in liquid from the throat into the lungs, causing the occurrence of pneumonia.

All in all, the researchers noted that sleep apnea seemed to be an independent risk factor for pneumonia, making it one more reason to seek a sleep study if you suspect apnea might be behind your sleep woes.