Sleep Apnea Risk Factors – Glastonbury, CT
Are You at Risk for Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects millions of people across the United States. It can afflict anyone, including children, seniors, adults, athletes, and sedentary individuals. Because it is so widespread, you might wonder if there is any way to know if you are at risk for this dangerous condition. On this page, we’ll discuss some of the most common obstructive sleep apnea risk factors.
Estimates vary on what percentage of obese people have obstructive sleep apnea, but according to one estimate, the condition affects about 45 percent of obese individuals, and children with obesity are 46 percent more likely to have it than children of a normal weight. The strong correlation between obesity and sleep apnea is due to the effect of excess fat around the neck. It can put pressure on the airway and restrict breathing while a person is asleep.
Sleep apnea tends to be more prevalent among individuals who are over 50 years of age. This may be due in part to weakening muscles in the throat and increased fatty deposits in that area. In postmenopausal women, hormones may also play a role in increasing the risk of sleep apnea.
Smoking and Alcohol Consumption
Smoking can irritate the airway and cause inflammation, which increases the risk of obstructed breathing at night. Alcohol consumption, particularly when it occurs during the last few hours before bedtime, can also interfere with nighttime breathing because it may cause the muscles in the throat to overrelax.
Men are twice as likely as women to have sleep apnea. However, it is important to note that the prevalence of sleep apnea among women may be greatly underestimated. This may be because women are less likely to seek out diagnosis and treatment or because their symptoms may be less severe than those that occur in men.
Chronic Nasal Congestion
If you suffer from chronic allergies, you may be more prone to breathe through your mouth at night, which can increase the likelihood of sleep apnea. A deviated septum or other anatomical issues can also hinder nasal breathing and thus heighten the risk of OSA.
Should You Seek Diagnosis and Treatment?
Whether or not you have any of the above-listed risk factors for sleep apnea, you should seek diagnosis and treatment if you notice any OSA warning signs. For example, if you snore frequently or always feel tired, it is certainly worth your time to consult with a professional who can help you arrange for sleep testing.